Stress (linguistics)

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by Mahaodeh, Apr 27, 2008.

  1. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    Inspired by this, I was wondering if Arabic has any stresses, except shadda of course. One of the posts implied that all languages have stresses but the native speakers may not notice that becuase they are so used to it.

    I was wondering if such a thing existed in Arabic since I've never felt that there are any stresses but then maybe I just didn't notice. I also don't recall being taught about stresses in Arabic classes in school although we were taught about the stresses in English.
     
  2. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    Listen to someone from Egypt speaking in Fus7a and you'll notice the stresses 3ala 6ool.
     
  3. clevermizo Moderator

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    Stress doesn't seem all too phonemic in Arabic, but it's there. For example, compare the pronunciations of مدرسة in Egyptian and Syrian dialect, and you'll hear a stress shift from the second to the first syllable.

    Actually, come to think of it, there is phonemic stress in some dialects - especially at the morpheme boundaries:

    Levantine:
    تركتي
    تركتيه

    These are pronounced tarakti and taraktii respectively. The major difference between the two is stress on the second moving to the last syllable (with some compensatory lengthening). This changes the meaning from "she left" to "she left it". The vowel lengthening is automatic because in Levantine dialects you can't have stress on a final syllable which has no coda unless the vowel is lengthened.

    In fuS7a I don't think stress is phonemic, but it is always calculable based upon the length and strength of consonants and vowels lie in a word.

    As to its "importance" based on that other thread - I think putting stress on the wrong (or non-native) syllables can lead to misunderstanding. Stress is a metric in languages that possess it; it sets the rhythm of the sentence. Part of the reason why it is difficult for Middle Easterners to understand Moroccans or Algerians is not because the latter use so fewer Arabic words, but that there are large differences in where stress is placed on words, what sorts of vowels are long and short, what sorts of vowels are deleted, etc. The entire rhythm of the language changes.

    Our ears have acquired a sense for the rhythm of our native language, and when we here something with a different rhythm we have to think about what was said with more effort. When foreigners, like myself, learn Arabic, they can learn that stress in Arabic words is usually predictable, and then learn the rules on how to place them - and we do learn those things, in fact.:D
     
  4. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    OK, it became cristal clear when you mentioned the مدرسة example. It also made me notice what gives the Egyptians their "accent" when speaking fus7a.

    I'm not so sure I agree with the rest though, the example of تركتِ and تركتيه are different, you have more letters in the second case - even if you write the kasra as a ya' you will still have an additional ha' in the second word - it becomes like: sam and same - the additional e is the point here.

    I must admit that I kept repeating the تركت and made those around me repeat it but I still can't hear a stress, not on the middle nor anywhere else - it sounded as if the stressing was equal. I must also admit that this example confused me very much. Stress, as I understand it is like the school example except that it changes the meaning of the word and both exist in the same dialect - maybe my understanding is a little limited?
     
  5. djara

    djara Senior Member

    Sousse, Tunisia
    Tunisia Arabic
    I don't think repeating a single word (or having it repeated) can give you an idea of the stress, especially when you are pronouncing each syllable separately. However, when you include it in a sentence and your read it with native speaker intonation I think stress will most certainly appear for words with more than one syllable. In the case of تركت it is clear in my mind that the stress cannot be on the first syllable (?taraktu), nor could it be on the last (?taraktu this would be for plural). By contrast, taraktu comes very naturally.
     
  6. clevermizo Moderator

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    Note, the number of letters orthographically in a word is not really a measure of phonological reality. In Levantine Arabic there is no [h] pronounced at the end of تركتيه, unlike other dialects perhaps. It's possible that it's a bad example, but I clearly hear a change in stress between: tarakti (you left) taraktii (you left it), as well as taraku (they left) and tarakuu (they left him/it).

    The bold letters indicate stress. Again, the example may not be the best, but at least my example of مدرسة was illustrative.:D It also may be that as a native speaker one mostly hears the length in the vowel, and as a non-native speaker I'm hearing mostly a change in stress. Phonologically there is both a longer vowel and a change in stress between these pairs of words.
     
  7. Xence Senior Member

    Algeria (Arabic - French)
    I was just wondering if long vowels حروف المد aren't the Arabic equivalent of stress in other languages.
    Any comment?
     
  8. clevermizo Moderator

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    No - stress is especially evident in Arabic in words that have no such long vowels. Take for example, the word مدرسة, with all short vowels. I have been taught to pronounce this (in fus7a) madrasatun, with stress on the second syllable or as madrase in Syrian Arabic, with stress on the first syllable. Either way, stress phenomena are apparent.

    Stress and length are different phonological phenomena. This was a previous thread in which it was discussed in a little more detail.
     
  9. Xence Senior Member

    Algeria (Arabic - French)
    Thanks clevermizo for the link.
    I realise that I didn't express my idea as I would do. In fact, I meant that stress is put on letters preceding long vowels, as well as on both letters with shadda or sukuun.
     
  10. Hajjar New Member

    England
    Arabic - Syria
    There is one topic is completely missing in Arabic linguistic treatises, that of stress. In Classical Arabic, stress is not phonemic: there are no tow words that are distinguished solely by a difference in stress. It is, therefore, understandable that the Arabic grammarians did not feel the need to discuss stress as a feature of Arabic.
     
  11. vega3131

    vega3131 Senior Member

    Lunezia
    Italian
    Excuse me for such an elementary question
    I have read the sentences:
    "In fuS7a I don't think stress is phonemic"
    "I have been taught to pronounce this (in fus7a) madrasatun"
    Please, tell me what is "FuS7a", what it means, and whether there is an Arabic transcription, if any.
    Thank you
     
  12. Hajjar New Member

    England
    Arabic - Syria
    Fos7a
    اللغة العربية الفصحى
    Classical Arabic language​

    Some people are writting "7" as a the letter "ح" in arabic
    7 = ح​
    I took me a while to understand what "fus7a" is, lol
     
  13. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    الفُصحَى = the "Elequent".

    Most Arabs (if not all, including linguists) do not distinguish between MSA and Classical Arabic, to them it is one and the same "fus7a".

    The reason that I use this word rather than MSA and/or Classical Arabic is that I do not believe in such a distinction and do not like using the (what I believe to be) 'Western imposed concepts'.
     
  14. Soos Senior Member

    American English, Lebanese
    Eloquent you mean.
     
  15. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    Sorry, but I did actually type it in MS Word first for a spell check, it did not give me anything. :eek:
     
  16. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    Actually, in fus7a the accent keeps traveling back in the case of no 'heavy' syllables (long vowel or short vowel + consonant cluster) and the correct pronunciation is madrasatun (note also that the d is in the first syllable). The rule learned is probably related to the Egyptian urban stress on the penultimate, which in turn may be the result of not wanted stress to travel past the antepenult and then keeping that stress when pausal forms were generalized.

    This is important because it shows that in some stage of Classical Arabic, stress was not different from a long prosodic unit, i.e., a long vowel or a consonant cluster created a 'heavy' syllable that was eventually pronounced as stress.

    An interesting (or maybe not that interesting) side note is that in Akkadian, many words interchanged between having long vowels or having a doubled consonant among but also within dialects (at least in writing).
     
  17. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    What is this claim based on? :confused: I've never heard this pronunciation and it sounds entirely incorrect to me.
     
  18. clevermizo Moderator

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    ^My original textbook in Arabic claims that there are two traditions for this pronunciation. One moves the stress all the way to the beginning ['mad.ra.sa.tun] the other does not allow it to move further than three from the end [mad.'ra.sa.tun].

    I think both exist though I don't know in what regions the first one is used, and it probably has to do with Qur'anic reading traditions that I know little about.
     
  19. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    Well, I'll be! As I said, I have never heard "madrasatun" (or anything similar), and it really sounds very wrong. I would not advise any learners of Arabic to use that pronunciation. (While it may be correct for the purposes of Qur'anic recitation - I don't know much about that either - it sounds incorrect in every other modern context, at least to me.)
     
  20. clevermizo Moderator

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    It's actually a little awkward which if it is used, it makes sense why [mad'rasatun] won out as the "standard" pronunciation. Actually sitting here and trying to put stress on the first syllable, it sounds mostly like I'm stressing all syllables equally.
     
  21. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Chicago, IL
    American English, Palestinian Arabic
    The only situation I can imagine myself ever saying "madrasatun" in is if someone mispronounced the first syllable and I wanted to clarify it for them.

    Example:

    Clevermizo (pointing to a word written somewhere): What's that word? "Fadrasatun"?
    Elroy: No, "madrasatun."

    (Of course, Clevermizo would never make such a mistake. :D)
     
  22. clevermizo Moderator

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    Hah! Well when I was first learning, I had a problem with recognizing handwriting and sometimes forgetting dots, so I have been known to confuse handwritten مــــ and فـــــ . It's not inconceivable.:D
     
  23. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    I'm sorry, I should have said Classical Arabic and not فصحى which of course includes MSA. This rule is based on the ancient grammarians and the Classical tradition. It is true that in MSA, the antepenult is the farthest back the stress can travel.

    Right...this is exactly what I'm getting at. The classical rules and poetic meters, etc., seem to indicate that there was no stress at all, but that a stress was 'felt' at long vowels or consonant clusters. So it sounds equal if there are none or if it falls at the beginning (since the absence of other stresses makes the beginning of the utterance sounds stressed by virtue of its 'eruption')

    By the way, learners of Finnish and French are often found putting stress on the first syllable, when in fact there is no real stress at all, let alone phonemic. It's a cool little phenomenon. :)
     
  24. kemocon Junior Member

    Arabic - Egypt and Standard
    MSA and Classical Arabic are definitely different, and most Arabs I know of do in fact agree to this fact. It has nothing "Western" to do with it. I would even go so far as say MSA and Classical Arabic are as different as Egyptian and Syrian Arabic, perhaps even more. Phonology, morphology, syntax, vocabulary (be it in word choice or loan words), and even semantics are all considerably different, with MSA being more analytical and leaning more toward the languages of the natives who once occupied what is known today as the Arab World as well as English and French. When you say fuS7a, I assume you mean MSA.

    Back to our subject matter, Arabic does make use of stress, but unlike English, stress doesn't affect the value of vowels, at least not in careful pronunciation. So while our stress might not sound as dramatic as that of English speakers, there still is a syllable which is a little louder than the syllables around it. If you take a look at the waveform of some Arabic word recorded by a native, it is clear which syllable is accented.

    Also, as far as I am aware, different traditions of reciting the Holy Qur'an do not differ regarding stress, although Maghrebis might shift stress to the last syllable before certain letters because of influence from the French language (?), not because of the tradition itself.

    Finally, it's mad.ra.sah in Standard and Egyptian Arabic, but mad.ra.s(e)h in Syrian Arabic.
     
  25. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    Vancúver, Canadá
    Español de El Salvador
    Hey, but there's plenty of linguists here who do not agree with this division either. Ethnologue in its catalogue of languages (who western linguists often turn to as sort of standard list for what is a language and what is a dialect), for instance, considers them to be the same: "Standard Arabic" (code: arb).
    Such as what grammarian, if I may ask? I would like to know more about the differences between pronunciation traditions.
    But if Finnish people stress the first syllable or the French, the last one, consistenly then there is stress but just not phonemic at all.
    Hmm, it doesn't seem so though, this forum being some proof of it with all these users challenging the notion of MSA vs. Classical every other week. Or asking what it is to begin with.

    Also, where does Medieval Arabic fit here?
    I think there's a good deal of complexity to be discussed here, and it probably ends up in a discussion of Your Mileage May Vary. Another added problem with calling it "considerably different" is that a very classicising form is still regarded highly as the most correct fos7a...
     
  26. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    With all due respect, but says who? If I hear someone on TV speaking MSA and pronouncing it mad.ra.sah, I would quickly say "the speaker is Egyptian". If I hear it mad.ra.seh, I would not guess where the speaker is from.

    Are you sure your native dialect is not affecting the way you perceive MSA?
     
  27. lukebeadgcf

    lukebeadgcf Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    American English
    I agree with Maha, mad.ra.sah is Egyptian not MSA. mad.ra.sah is MSA and Syrian happens to have a similar stress. To be more specific it is MSA pause form. If we put case markings on the word, the stress shifts to the second syllable:

    مدرسةٌ
     
  28. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    I don't know, I feel the stress is very very light - nothing like the stress you feel when you say the English object (v.) where the stress is clearly on the je part and is closer to object (n.) where there is a very very light stress on the b. Here, I feel the stress is not actually on the full mad but only on the d part, none whatsoever on the r whether you use case markings or not (except in EA of course).
     
  29. lukebeadgcf

    lukebeadgcf Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    American English
    As a non-native learner, I've always found stress to be a salient and easily detectable feature. In fact, when words aren't stressed the way I expect them to be, I have trouble understanding. English stress is harder for me to detect than Arabic stress.
     
  30. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    Vancúver, Canadá
    Español de El Salvador
    Hmmm, it seems Egyptians when reading MSA say mad.ra.sa too though.
     
  31. lukebeadgcf

    lukebeadgcf Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    American English
    Your right. That's why its easy to tell them apart, even if they use j instead of g for جيم.
     
  32. Víctor Pérez

    Víctor Pérez Senior Member

    España
    Français - Español peninsular
    Hi everybody,

    I would like to know if -as I think- in all the Arabic words the stress falls on the last syllable.



    Merged with previous thread on the topic of stress. Please remember to search through previous discussions before posting.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2011
  33. fof Junior Member

    nyc
    us english
    No, that's not true at all. It varies quite a lot depending on the word and its pattern.
     
  34. Víctor Pérez

    Víctor Pérez Senior Member

    España
    Français - Español peninsular
    Thanks a lot for your answer, fof.
     
  35. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    In MSA, the stress usually falls on the antepenultimate syllable (i.e. the one before the one before last). In verbs, however, it often falls on the penultimate. It varies by country, but the rule I just mentioned is what's used, for example, when reading the Quran.
     
  36. Víctor Pérez

    Víctor Pérez Senior Member

    España
    Français - Español peninsular
    Thanks for the precision, Wadi.

    I asked that question because I wanted to know which syllable is stressed in names as, for instance, Hussein.
     
  37. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    Vancúver, Canadá
    Español de El Salvador
    That's most interesting! So you read كتب 'he wrote' as katába? Or perhaps you're referring to reading verbs without those final vowels getting them closer to many vernaculars? (I.e. kátab, but then, يكتبان would be "yaktúbaan"?)
    As said above, the rules used depend to a good extent on one's vernacular/dialect, and the local tradition when reading written Arabic. It is also important to realize that there's many vowel and vowel-consonant endings that are only pronounced in very formal contexts, and are otherwise often dropped.

    In many dialects and written Arabic reading traditions stress depends on "syllable-weight", basically the structure of syllables, where syllables with diphthongs, long vowels, or a syllable-final consonant (or consonants) may attract stress—the exact rules vary.

    The word you ask about, حسين 'li'l good, the li'l good one', may be Hussaynun/Hussaynan/Hussaynin, or, if dropping the endings, just Hussayn. Since it contains a diphthong, ay, it's very widespread to pronounce the stress on the right-most syllable with one, so many Arabic speakers are going to pronounce it Hussáynun/Hussáynan/Hussáynin or Hussáyn.

    Many speakers pronounce the written Arabic diphthong "ay" as a long "e" sound (IPA: [e:]), so it's as likely they would say Husséen. In fact, I'm sure the commonly-used spelling "Hussein" derives from this pronunciation, where the "ss" represents a voiceless sibilant (IPA: ), and the "ei" represents [e:] as commonly done in Latin-alphabet chat spellings.

    tl;dr version: in "Hussein", many would pronounce it on the "ei" part.
     
  38. Wadi Hanifa

    Wadi Hanifa Senior Member

    Riyadh
    Arabic
    Yeah I wasn't really thinking of the final vowels when I mentioned verbs (perhaps my brain is programmed to treat them as separate from the word itself). Of course, it is kataba, not kataba. I guess, the "ante-penult" rule is a good rule of thumb, even for verbs, if you take the final markers into account. Example: madrasah, madrasatun. In yaktubaan, the stress falls on the long vowel. It just goes to show that it's difficult to come up with one or two rules to account for all situations.

    In a word like "Husayn", the stress follows the dipthong.
     
  39. lukebeadgcf

    lukebeadgcf Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    American English
    There is no "rule of thumb" for stress in الفصحى, but the rules are simple:

    There are three syllable lengths: light, heavy, and super-heavy (and we can also encounter super-super-heavy in pause)

    Last syllable is accented if it is super-heavy:

    بهرجان (pronounced in pause without case endings)

    Penultimate if that syllable is at least heavy and the last syllable is not super-heavy

    هيولى

    Antepenultimate if the penultimate is light and the last syllable is not super-heavy

    شعوذة (pronounced in pause without case endings)
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  40. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    Vancúver, Canadá
    Español de El Salvador
    ...But there's still some important variation to note. A typical Cairene would read شعوذة as "shaʕwáza" (just like the مدرسة madrása example above in posts #30 and #31), and somebody from Baghdad would read كتبها "kátabaha", with stress on the pre-antepenultimate syllable. (Also, I believe it's conceivable that some people would read هيولى "hayuuláa"?)
     
  41. lukebeadgcf

    lukebeadgcf Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    American English
    Yes. In Egypt, the formal stress rules I listed apply with the following exception:

    When a word ends with CCVCV (like مدرسة) or CCVCVC (like تكوّنتْ) [sometimes even extending to VVCVCV (like جامعة)], stress moves from the ante-penultimate to the penultimate.

    I am not familiar with this. I am skeptical until someone can clarify further.

    This I highly doubt. I am aware that some stress the last syllable when a dual possessive suffix is attached to the end of a word like صداقتهما, but this is, as far as I'm concerned and as far as prescriptivist convention dictates, a mistake. But with هيولى or other words like فصحى or كبرى or دنيا etc., I don't think anyone would ever stress the last syllable.
     
  42. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    Vancúver, Canadá
    Español de El Salvador
    According to Janet C. E. Watson's The Phonology and Morphology of Arabic (2002), the last syllable is also stressed if it's a CVV heavy one (so doesn't need to be super-heavy):
    and it always extends to words ending in VVCVCV (like جامعة).
    I remember reading about it in an academic source, also claiming that "some" Syrians and Lebanese would pronounce it كتبها katabaháa, but I can't find the reference for my life...

    Nonetheless, on the variation of stress placement, Karin Ryding quotes McCarthy and Prince's (1990) saying: "there is inconsistency in the stressing of standard Arabic words between different areas of the Arab world, and no direct testimony on this subject exists from the Classical period".
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  43. lukebeadgcf

    lukebeadgcf Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    American English
    Do you say فصحى?

    If you listen to some Egyptian narrators for shows, they will say مدرسة and تكونتْ, but جامعة. There seems to some kind of prioritization of which colloquial stress patterns to forgo when speaking in higher registers.

    I very much agree. The reality is quite complex. The most we can do is listen. Perhaps the best testimony to classical stress conventions can be heard in the various styles of Quranic recitation which are alive and kicking.
     
  44. Serafín33

    Serafín33 Senior Member

    Vancúver, Canadá
    Español de El Salvador
    I don't, I actually follow the rules you posted in page 2 all the time, but I suppose it's conceivable that there's people who would say foSHáa.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  45. Víctor Pérez

    Víctor Pérez Senior Member

    España
    Français - Español peninsular
    Shukran, Neqitan.
     
  46. lukebeadgcf

    lukebeadgcf Senior Member

    Cambridge, MA
    American English
    On what basis is this conceivable? I doubt that this is the case, but am sincerely interested in broadening my understanding of this phenomenon if it were.
     
  47. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    I don't think it's ever conceivable.
     

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