one---stressed or unstressed?

8769

Senior Member
Japanese and Japan
I understand the pronoun “one” has two types: stressed "one" and unstressed one.
Which type is the colored “one” in the following dialogue, stressed or unstressed?

A: These scarfs are nice. Where did you buy them?
B: I bought the plain one at a shop in Paris, but the one with a pattern is a present from my husband.
 
  • mplsray

    Senior Member
    I understand the pronoun “one” has two types: stressed "one" and unstressed one.
    Which type is the colored “one” in the following dialogue, stressed or unstressed?

    A: These scarfs are nice. Where did you buy them?
    B: I bought the plain one at a shop in Paris, but the one with a pattern is a present from my husband.
    There are stressed and unstressed forms of one in some nonstandard American dialects (Appalachian English, for example), but not in Standard American English. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, for example, shows only one pronunciation, /wʌn/ (Well, /wən/, but for its editors, those are one and the same pronunciation). Even Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary, which is famous for giving pronunciation variants which no other dictionary has, shows only one pronunciation for the word.

    Not quite right. For the following sense it gives another pronunciation:

    "[1 c] (2) : an individual of a particular kind <that's really a splendid one>"

    For this sense alone, it gives the pronunciation /_wən/. Unfortunately, I have no idea how that underscore is intended to change the pronunciation.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Background information on the sounds: In some accents such as AE and Scottish there's not much difference. In my southern BE there's a clear difference between full-vowel [wan] (conventionally written [wʌn], which represents an old-fashioned pronunciation) and weakened [wən]. To give you more information than you need, in northern BE it would be even clearer, since the full-vowel version is [wʊn]; in intermediate accents it's something like [wɔn] or [wœn]. Now I'll stick to my own pronunciation [wan].

    That said, my first reaction was that 'one' hasn't got a different unstressed pronunciation. I had to say your sentence a few times to satisfy myself that it has. In the unstressed position in 'plain one', I can say either [wan] or [wən]. But the full-vowel [wan] is perhaps more likely for me, even though unstressed. (I'm not sure: I'd have to catch myself saying it naturally.)

    However, in 'the one with a pattern' it would be stressed. There are two reasons a word can be stressed - either it has the main accent of the phrase, or it's several syllables away from it. In your sentence you're contrasting 'plain' and 'pattern', so these two words have the primary accent:

    I bought the \/plain one at a shop in Paris, but the one with a \/pattern is a present from my husband.

    (The accent is a fall-rise tone \/ because it's non-final.)

    Some other syllables, usually on content words, also have stresses:

    I 'bought the \/plain one at a 'shop in 'Par.is, but the 'one with a \/pattern is a 'pres.ent from my 'hus.band.

    The first 'one' has no stress because it's right next to a strongly accented syllable; but the other one is in a long group of grammatical (functional) syllables: 'but the one with a'. We don't need to stress any of these, but we'd be quite likely to stress 'one' rather than have five weak syllables in a row.

    (For completeness' sake I'd better add the rest of the tones to the sentence. A place phrase at the end of a clause has a rising tone, and the main word in the final clause has falling tone, thus: )

    I 'bought the \/plain one at a 'shop in /'Par.is, but the 'one with a \/pattern is a 'pres.ent from my \'hus.band.
     

    8769

    Senior Member
    Japanese and Japan
    Thank you for your replies, mplsray and entangledbank.

    I 'bought the \/plain one at a 'shop in /'Par.is, but the 'one with a \/pattern is a 'pres.ent from my \'hus.band.
    Wow! I have never given such an in-depth explanation as this before in this forusm before. Aside from the question I asked in the original question, could you please put stress markes like the ones you have given above to the following colored part?

    A friend and I went to a fast-food restaurant. He ate four hamburgers, three servings of French fries and a salad. Though I was very hungry too, I couldn’t eat that much.

    My wild guess is:
    Though 'I was 'very 'hungry Vtoo, I 'couldn’t eat \that much.

    How do you say, entangledbank?
     
    Last edited:

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I don't want to answer in detail, because (a) it's a separate question, and more importantly (b) you could write a whole book about intonation. In fact John Wells, the world's foremost expert on English pronunciation, has: English Intonation, Cambridge, 2006, which I recommend very highly.

    But in brief, yes you're basically right: non-final main accent on \/too, final emphatic accent on \that. When several stressed syllables appear before the main accent, we don't need to stress all of them: so very, the middle one of three, might not be. So the second 'one' in your original sentence might or might not be. It's only a very slight difference. The main thing is which syllables have rising or falling accents.
     

    8769

    Senior Member
    Japanese and Japan
    Thank you again, entangledbank, for your valuable advice.
    It helps a lot.

    I already got Well's recent book, which I find very informative.
     
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