The degrees of stress.
The British linguists usually distinguish three degrees of stress in the word. The primary stress is the strongest, it is marked by number 1 in the word examination, the secondary stress is the second strongest marked by 2. All the other degrees are termed weak stress. Unstressed syllables are supposed to have weak stress.
The accentual structure of English words is liable (подвержена) to instability due to the different origin of several layers in the Modern English word stock. In Germanic languages the word stress originally fell on the initial syllable or the second syllable, the root syllable in the English words with prefixes. This tendency was called recessive. Most English words of Anglo-Saxon origin as well as the French borrowings (dated back to the 15th century) are subjected to this recessive tendency. Unrestricted recessive tendency is observed in the native English words having no prefix, e.g. mother, daughter, brother, swallow. In assimilated French borrowings, e.g. reason, colour, restaurant. Restricted recessive tendency marks English words with prefixes, e.g. foresee, begin, withdraw, apart.
The rhythm of alternating (чередующихс€) stressed and unstressed syllables gave birth to the rhythmical tendency in the present-day English which caused the appearance of the secondary stress in the multisyllabic French borrowings, e.g. ,revo Сlution,,organi Сsation, as,simi Сlation, etc. it also explains the placement of primary stress on the third syllable from the end in three- and four-syllable words, e.g. Сcinema, Сsituate, ar Сticulate.
Nowadays we witness (видим) a great number of variations in the accentual structure of English multi-syllable words as a result of the interrelation of the tendencies. The stress on the initial syllable is caused by the diachronical recessive tendency or the stress on the second syllable under the influence of the strong rhythmical tendency of the present day, e.g. Сhospitable Ц ho Сspitable, Сdistribute Ц dis Сtribute, Сaristocrat Ц a Сristocrat.
A third tendency was traced in the instability of the accentual structure of English word stress, the retentive (сохран€юща€, сдерживающа€) tendency: a derivative often retains (удерживает) the stress of the original or parent word, e.g. Сsimilar Ц as Сsimilate,,recom Сmend -,recommend Сdation.
G. P. Torsuev classifies the words according to the number of stressed syllables, their degree or character (the main and the secondary stress). The most widely spread types are supposed to be Type I, e.g. Сfather, Сpossibly, Сmother-in-law, Сgas-pipe, Type II, e.g. Сradio- Сactive, Сre Сwrite, Сdiso Сbey, Type V, e.g. Сhair-,dresser, Сsub,structure and Type VI, e.g. ,maga Сzine,,hospi Сtality,,disorgani Сzation.
The accentual structure of words is actually very closely interrelated with their semantic value. There is a fairly large class of words in English which are marked by two primary stresses (level stress) (Type II). The accentual pattern of this group of words is regulated by the meaningful weight of the elements of the compounds (сложные слова):
a) Most of compound adjectives have two equal stresses as both elements in them are semantically important, e.g. Сabsent- Сminded, Сleft- Сhanded, Сgood- Сlooking. As soon as the significance of one of the elements of a compound adjective is weakened its accentual pattern is changed, e.g. Сspring-like, Сoval-shaped.
b) The same tendency is observed in compound nouns: if their elements are semantically important both elements are equally stressed, e.g. Сnorth- Сeast, Сsouth- Сwest. At the same time most of compound nouns have one stress on the first element which is more significant than the second one, e.g. Сdining-room Ц Сbedroom Ц Сbathroom Ц Сshop-girl.
c) Compound verbs have two equal stresses as their postpositions change the actual meaning of the verb itself, e.g. to Сput Сon, to Сswitch Сoff, to Сtry Сon, to Сgive Сin.
d) Words with meaningful (strong) prefixes, e.g. Сun Сeducated, Сpre Сwar, Сin Сaccurate, Сvice Сpresident, Сsub Сconscious, Сinter Сconnection, Сdis Сplease, Сmis Сunderstood, Сir Сregular.
e) Compound numerals have naturally two equal stresses, making both elements significant, e.g. Сtwenty- Сthree, Сsixty- Сfive.
f) Numerals with the Цteen suffix are marked by two stresses to oppose them to the numerals with the unstressed suffix Цty, e.g. Сseven Сteen, Сfif Сteen.
IV. The functional aspect of word stress.
Word stress in a language performs three functions.
1. Word stress constitutes a word, it organizes the syllables of a word into a language unit having a definite accentual structure, i.e. a pattern of relationship among the syllables; a word does not exist without the word stress. Thus the word stress performs the constitutive function.
2. Word stress enables a person to identify a succession of syllables as a definite accentual pattern of a word. This function of word stress is known as identificatory or recognitive. Correct accentuation helps the listener to make the process of communication easier, whereas the distorted accentual pattern of words, misplaced word stresses prevent normal understanding.
3. Word stress alone is capable of differentiating the meaning of words or their forms, thus performing its distinctive function. The accentual patterns of words or the degrees of word stress and their positions form oppositions, e.g. Сimport Ц im Сport, Сbillow Ц be Сlow, a Сdancing-girl (танцовщица) - a Сdancing Сgirl (танцующа€ девушка), a Сblackboard (классна€ доска) Ц a Сblack Сboard (черна€ доска).