Different pronunciation for the same word [protest]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Wiren, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. Wiren Senior Member

    I'm studing the english pronunciation with a site that pronunce every kind of word.
    Sometime happens that a word that could be both a noun and a verb, has two different pronunciation with regards to the accent.
    For example, if I search for "protest" that site said:
    "Protest" as a noun = pròtest.
    "Protest" as a verb = protèst.
    (Sorry I don't know how to write the phonetic symbols).

    Now I would like to know: are these differences real in the spoken language, or are they just formalism that almost noone use?
  2. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    They're real, Wiren:).

    When I say "they protest", I stress "-est".

    When I say "a protest", I stress "pro-".
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  3. e2efour Senior Member

    England (aged 75)
    UK English
    The different emphases (which is what you mean by accent) are important since if you put the strong stress on a word, the person you are talking to may have difficulty in understanding you.
    For example (wrong stress):
    Do you have any record of this?
    Will you permit me to do this?

    It is common for the verb to have the stress on the last syllable (of two) and the noun to have the stress on the first syllable.
  4. Biffo Senior Member

    English - England
    In BrE they are certainly real but I believe in some places the difference may not exist.

    Furthermore I have often noticed a difference between the way US speakers stress certain words and the way we British do. I cannot immediately think of examples but I expect I shall shortly.

    I can think of only a couple of examples so far and they are both compound nouns, jet-plane and boy-scout. In my experience US speakers tend to stress the first word of the pair and UK speakers either stress the words equally or place the stress on the final word.
    BrE: When I was young I was a boy-SCOUT.
    AmE: When I was young I was a BOY-scout.

    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  5. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    They are real, and useful to help people understand what is being said in spoken language. There are other cues in the context that help people comprehend which is the intended meaning in written text.

    I am sure we have discussed specific examples, but so far I haven't been able to find the threads. If I find one, I'll post it here.

    Cross-posted with several people.

    Added: See also these threads:
    Conduct [stress / pronunciation]
    stress shift in some verbs/nouns
    Pronunciation: address (as verb and noun)
    Pronunciation: prospect, noun & verb
    Records vs to record: pronunciation noun vs. verb.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
  6. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    Language is first and foremost a spoken medium. Writing is a feeble attempt to represent some aspects of language. Standard English spelling does not even attempt to represent many aspects of pronunciation including stress, volume, pace, accent and intonation.

    The difference between pròtest and protèst is as real as the difference between protest and PROTEST (louder), protest and p r o t e s t (slower), protest and proootest (regionally marked), etc.
  7. ribran

    ribran Senior Member

    Austin, Texas
    English - American
    People my age, in my circle, pronounce protest (n.) and protest (v.) identically, and to us, the pro-TEST pronunciation actually sounds quite stuffy.

    EDIT: On second thought, I do use the pro-TEST pronunciation, but only in the phrase (to) protest one's innocence.
  8. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima (English Only)

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Different stresses for me, as indicated by various people above. However, the stress can change for reasons of contrast. I just heard on the radio a comment about how the number of cod fish INcreased. Normally I would talk about 'an INcrease' and 'the cod fish inCREASED', but I can understand the stress moved to the first syllable here because the context of the programme was a newspaper earlier publishing an article that there were only 100 cod left in the North Sea, so 'INcrease' is implicitly contrasted to 'DEcrease' (although that word wasn't mentioned).

    (See the news story here.)
  9. mplsray Senior Member

    The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, an American dictionary, shows only one pronunciation for the noun protest: Accent on the first syllable and the same vowel as in pro.

    It gives three pronunciations for the verb protest, two with the accent on the second syllable, with the vowel in the first syllable being either a schwa or the vowel in pro, and one which is identical with the pronunciation it shows for the noun.

    These pronunciations are not theoretical but are based upon actual speech, for which the editors have the evidence (which, interestingly enough, the printed version of the dictionary, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, on the first page of its "Guide to Pronunciation," says is "an extensive collection of 3 x 5 slips of paper...[which have been cited] from live speech and from radio, television, and shortwave broadcasts since the 1930s").

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