Different stress Brit-Am in 2-syllable verbs

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by blasita, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    I´ve been trying to find this in the forums, but I haven´t been able to.

    Examples: transfer (v) is pronounced in Brit English transfer (stress on the second syllable), and in Am English: transfer (stress on the first). Donate (Brit); donate (Am).

    So, in Am English you tend to stress the first syllable, but is there a rule? The only one I was told is about 2-syllable verbs ending in -ate (also e.g. dictate, locate, rotate); but I wonder if this is always true (e.g. translate?).

    And I may be wrong in all this; please correct me. I´d appreciate any comments. Thank you. Saludos a todos.
     
  2. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    In BrE there are many cases where we differentiate in pronunciation between the noun and the verb.

    Example

    I would like you to transfer the account to head office. When you have made the transfer please notify me.

    There are many examples of this but I can't think of any others at the moment! If I do I will add them.
     
  3. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Thank you very much, grubble.

    I´m quite confused here because I think that e.g. increase is pronounced in BrE the same way as it is in AmE (i.e. both differentiate between the noun and the verb). So, when don´t AmE speakers do it?

    By the way, I can´t remember the rule about two-syllable verbs: in what cases in BrE does the stress change?

    Sorry, too many questions, but it has always been a mystery for me. Thank you!
     
  4. Vegetariana

    Vegetariana Junior Member

    Blasita, I agree with most of what is said here, but I don't know the specific rules for accent in English. Unfortunately, I don't think there are any steadfast rules for two-syllable rules. For example, I know Brits and Americans both say paper and "water the flowers"
    I can tell you, though, that you will be understood perfectly no matter how you pronounce these two-syllable words. In fact, I bet nobody would even notice if you put the emphasis on the wrong syllable. Unless, you want to know for academic reasons, then don't worry about it :)
     
  5. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Thanks so much, Vegetariana. Unfortunately, my reason is academic, yes:(
     
  6. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    If there is a rule I would be very interested to hear it! In BrE there are many two syllable words where no difference occurs. The fact is that often we have to hear a word before we know how it is said. Example: Most English people who read the word "automaton" for the first time, unconsciously apply the unwritten "rules" and come up with "automAYton" (by generalising from "automation") whereas the accepted pronunciation is "autOmaton".


    If you have some rules it would be interesting to hear them but I would wager we can find exceptions! Do you have a list of such words? That would help.
     
  7. donbill

    donbill Senior Member / Moderator

    South Carolina / USA
    English - American
    ¡Ay, Blasita! Esto es imposible.

    There are so many 2 syllable words to consider.

    conduct = verb;
    conduct = noun (for me the first is just slightly more stressed.)

    contract = verb (to become smaller)
    contract = noun (document) (When I use the verb in the sense of "contratar a alguien," I pronounce it like the noun. That may be totally idiosyncratic.)

    I pronounce transfer the same for noun and verb, and I stress the first syllable of translate.

    In my region we often use the word produce to mean fresh fruits and vegetables, but the word produce is the verb. "Farmers produce produce."

    I'm sure this will prove to be a very interesting thread. A lot of regional factors as well as idiolect will come into play.

    Un saludo
     
  8. Istriano

    Istriano Senior Member

    -
    I think translate, locate would sound too old-fashioned in the US.
     
  9. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Grubble: I wish I had the rules! I wouldn´t be such a pain ...:) Sorry, I don´t have a complete list either. But I was somehow taught that if a verb has 2 syllables, it´s stressed on the second syllable. More examples: progress, decrease, reject, export, import, present.
    So, I suppose I must admit there isn´t a rule, and that there are exceptions to the rule about word stress in 2-syllable nouns and verbs; e.g. travel, picture, answer (have the same stress for both the noun and the verb.)

    BUT my actual question was about BrE vs AmE here: why e.g. import (v) is import in AmE and import in BrE but travel (v) is the same in both? Thank you, donbill: useful and a great help as usual.

    An thank you so much everyone else, I really appreciate everybody´s help.
     
  10. donbill

    donbill Senior Member / Moderator

    South Carolina / USA
    English - American
    translate might not even be noticed, but locate would.
     
  11. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    verb
    progress
    decrease
    reject
    export
    import
    present

    noun
    progress
    decrease
    reject
    export
    import
    present

    So all of these have the same change in emphasis between verb and noun in BrE.
     
  12. Istriano

    Istriano Senior Member

    -
  13. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Thanks very much, Istriano! Really appreciated:)

    I´d already had a look there, but I can´t find exactly what I need there:(
     
  14. fenixpollo

    fenixpollo Mod, I say, Moderator

    Arizona
    American English
    These are essentially the same in AmE, although most Americans wouldn't find it strange to hear the verbs import and export pronounced with the stress on the first syllable.

    In some regions (Texas, for example), there is more of this first-syllable pronunciation. However, at this moment I can't think of many examples beyond police (which most Americans pronounce police). Another favorite is TV, which I pronounce teevee, but some people from the southern US pronounce teevee.
     
  15. donbill

    donbill Senior Member / Moderator

    South Carolina / USA
    English - American
    Fenixpollo, you are exactly on target! Good observations about police and teevee. Most of the people in my region of the South don't say them that way, but the tendency does exist.

    There may be general tendencies of predictability that govern this question, but personal and regional preferences play a huge part in it.
     
  16. blasita

    blasita Senior Member

    Spanish - Spain (Madrid)
    Thank you very much, donbill, fenixpollo, grubble, Istriano and Vegetariana. Your comments have been a great help.

    For me, non-native, when I can´t find a rule I get really frustrated! I can´t apply the unwritten rules (as you said, grubble), because sometimes they just don´t come naturally to me. But languages are challenging, and I believe it´s so exciting learning a little bit every day :)

    Thanks again.
     
  17. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Warwick
    UK English
    Welcome to the reality of learning a new language. There are any amount of differences between American and British English but also between different versions of the language in their own countries.

    Instead of banging your head against a brick wall, just notice the differences and decide which version you will use. The why oh why question doesn't help you progress and is a distraction.
     
  18. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    Unfortunately English pronunciation has to be learned one word at a time. For example in the South of England there are two towns quite close to each other, They are both called "Leigh" but one is pronounced "Lee" and the other is pronounced "Lye".

    Another example:
    We don't use the word mishap very frequently in conversation but it is common in literature. Many children would read it as "mishup" to rhyme with "bishop".

    In fact it does not contain the "sh" sound. The word comes from "mis" and "hap". The word is correctly pronounced as "Miss-Hap". Not only that but the syllables are given equal emphasis (again there may be regional variation with regard to emphasis).
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2010
  19. ribran

    ribran Senior Member

    Austin, Texas
    English - American
    You know us all too well!

    I'm an INsurance agent!
     

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