Wednesday, 7 September 2011

PT's transcription workbook - some observations, #4

credit: Resource International
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Chapter 3 of Paul Tench's transcription workbook bears the title "Word Stress".

As to be expected of a book on transcription the concepts of primary stress, secondary stress and of non-stress are introduced and exemplified. When it comes to detecting degrees of prominence in a polysyllabic word, problems may arise as to where and how many stresses should be indicated. But do we really need to indicate secondary stress in a disyllabic word such as blackbird because the second syllable contains a long vowel?

PT also briefly touches upon the phenomenon of stress shift: fundaˈmental when pronounced in isolation, but ˈfundamental iˈdeas as a phrase. When you take a look at LPD's information box on stress shift (p. 784), you will find a similar example but with a slightly different stress pattern: ˌ fundamental miˈstake. PT claims that the words pronunciation, university and communication behave in a like manner. LPD3, however, does not indicate the possibility of stress shift by adding a wedge sign to these words. This is not to say that stress shift is impossible or even unlikely, but it illustrates that it is notoriously difficult to agree upon stress assignment.

Compound stress1 is also touched upon briefly. Combining forms containing a Greek or Latin bound stem are included, e.g. homophone, homograph, homorganic.
Let's see how PT's workbook and the 3 pronunciation dictionaries treat these as regards stress assignment:

lemma  PT     LPD3    EPD17    ODP
homophone  ˈhomoˌphone     ˈhomophone    ˈhomophone  ˈhomophone
homograph  ˈhomoˌgraph    ˈhomograph    ˈhomograph  ˈhomograph
homorganic  ˌhomorˈganic    ˌhomorˈganic   ˌhomorˈganic   <no entry>

One final comment on this chapter: On p. 58 we read:
Notice too that a compound itself can become one part of another compound: thus, two secondary stresses are required
3.13 railway, railway lines, railway station ___________________
Do we really need two secondary stress marks? Why not ˈrailway ˌstation (see LPD3 lemma railway)?

1 Be informed that summer heat can compound stress of expecting mothers. :)

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