Why is Word Stress Important?


Why is Word Stress Important?

Word stress is not used in all languages. Some languages, Japanese or French for example, pronounce each syllable with eq-ual em-pha-sis.

Other languages, English for example, use word stress.

Word stress is not an optional extra that you can add to the English language if you want. It is part of the language! English speakers use word stress to communicate rapidly and accurately, even in difficult conditions. If, for example, you do not hear a word clearly, you can still understand the word because of the position of the stress.

Think again about the two words photograph and photographer. Now imagine that you are speaking to somebody by telephone over a very bad line. You cannot hear clearly. In fact, you hear only the first two syllables of one of these words, photo… Which word is it, photograph or photographer? Of course, with word stress you will know immediately which word it is because in reality you will hear either PHOto… or phoTO… So without hearing the whole word, you probably know what the word is ( PHOto…graph or phoTO…grapher). It’s magic! (Of course, you also have the ‘context’ of your conversation to help you.)

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