nuclear stress

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Cub Pilot

Senior Member
I'm reading the Oxford Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs and there is a passage as follows:

( It's about the difference of the use of particle or preposition with phrasal verbs )
.........may resemble each other in individual cases to the point where misinterpretation is possible. In speech, however, the two types are often (though not always) differentiated by the placing of nuclear stress. Compare:
The video tape needs to be carefully run 'through. ( through functions as particle )
The money he'd inherited was quickly 'run through. ( through functions as prepositon )

What is meant by nuclear stress in this context. I read it to mean the essentail stress of the whole sentence.
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think it’s about where the stress is placed when the sentence is spoken aloud.

    The video tape needs to be carefully run through.
    The money he'd inherited was quickly run through.
     

    Cub Pilot

    Senior Member
    I have marked the stress by ' already. But what is meant by nuclear ? Is there a synonym ? Is it the essential stress for the meaning of the sentence, or what is meant by nuclear ? Or does it just mean the stress, as you said, where it is placed when the sentence is spoken. But in this case I have to say there exists more then just one stress in one and the same sentence, e.g
    The 'video tape ( ' )needs to be 'carefully run 'through. Hence, there must be a difference between the 'normal' stresses and the nuclear stress. There must be a difference in the meaning.
     
    Last edited:

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I wasn’t aware of nuclear being a specific term in this context, but it obviously implies the nucleus of whatever is being said – the core, the most important element, of a particular statement or sentence. I’m not sure what you would mean by the stress of the whole sentence? Those example sentences use the same verb phrase but in each the stress is on a different main element (nucleus) according to the meaning.

    From that Wikipedia article:
    The main stress within a sentence, often found on the last stressed word, is called the nuclear stress.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    John Wells, in his English Intonation, says:

    Some authors call it the 'tonic' rather than the nucleus. Other names are 'intonation centre' and 'sentence accent' or even 'sentence stress'.

    (I am a bit dubious about the quoted examples though - both as to nuclear placement and as to what's a particle.)
     
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