stress on the first syllable

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pastet89

Senior Member
bulgarian
Is stress in Czech 100% and always on the first syllable?

Title says it all. I have read this statement numerous times, but when listening to Czech it seemed to me it is not always 100%. Then I asked a native Czech and he told me that from random 10 words, 8 are on the first syllable. Then I checked the rest 2 in dictionary and one of them was not present, the other was showing first syllable. So he said he may be wrong (probably due to dialect or sth).
 
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  • bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    The main stress is always on the first syllable. However some groups of words have only one stress: do Sofie /dosofie/, co se stalo /cose stalo/.
     

    Stoggler

    Senior Member
    UK English
    On the OP was posted, I was wondering about this too. I had been listening to a few words on Forvo and I noticed that, to my (untrained) ears, the pronunciations for letadlo sound either like the first two syllables have similar stress or that the second one has more stress than the first.
     

    Tchesko

    Senior Member
    Czech
    On the OP was posted, I was wondering about this too. I had been listening to a few words on Forvo and I noticed that, to my (untrained) ears, the pronunciations for letadlo sound either like the first two syllables have similar stress or that the second one has more stress than the first.
    This usually doesn't occur in Czech, except in dialects such as Silesian (stress on the penultimate syllable, maybe under influence of Polish). The standard rule is as stated by Bibax.
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    In Czech the stress is weak and all vowels are (or would have to be) pronounced carefully. There is no unstressed vowel reduction like in English or Russian.

    Maybe it sounds like all syllables are pronounced equally stressed. Especially if someone is pronouncing isolated words with stress on clarity.
     

    hypoch

    Member
    Czech
    I have also noticed that "ahoj" is normally pronounced with the stress on the "hoj".

    Another word I have heard pronounced with stress on the third in addition to the first syllable is "samozřejmě". I think this was for emphasis and was possible as the word is still felt as a composite of two words: "samo" and "zřejmě".
     

    djwebb1969

    Banned
    English - England
    Well, I've noticed that there is a secondary stress later in many words - which might even lead you to mistake the stress pattern. I found an article on the Internet explaining there is secondary stress every two syllables.
     

    djwebb1969

    Banned
    English - England
    If you listen to the pronunciation of dobrého at http://www.forvo.com/search/dobrého/ - it sounds like the accent is on the middle syllable...

    I'm thinking, as most sources say Czech words have initial stress, there must be a primary stress on do- and a secondary stress on an ending with a long vowel like -ého.

    Listen to this too: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/špatný The audio offered for špatný sounds like the word is end-stressed. While this seems unlikely, it also seems clear that stress in Czech is different to English - English has very strong stress, French, for example is flatter - and maybe the Czech stress is more like the French one?

    Whatever the case may be, descriptions of Czech pronunciation that simply state all words have initial stress are clearly incomplete.
     
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    pastet89

    Senior Member
    bulgarian
    If you listen to the pronunciation of dobrého at http://www.forvo.com/search/dobrého/ - it sounds like the accent is on the middle syllable...

    I'm thinking, as most sources say Czech words have initial stress, there must be a primary stress on do- and a secondary stress on an ending with a long vowel like -ého.

    Listen to this too: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/špatný The audio offered for špatný sounds like the word is end-stressed. While this seems unlikely, it also seems clear that stress in Czech is different to English - English has very strong stress, French, for example is flatter - and maybe the Czech stress is more like the French one?

    Whatever the case may be, descriptions of Czech pronunciation that simply state all words have initial stress are clearly incomplete.
    I believe this is due to prolonged vowels. Despite the fact for dobrého it really sounds as the stress is on the "e". Any native speakers toughts on this?
     

    djwebb1969

    Banned
    English - England
    Yes, I think the stress on é in dobrého is due to the long vowel - but I too would like to check the views of native speakers on this. Do they agree that the stress is on the é? Or does it only seem so due to the length of the vowel? or is there a secondary stress on the ending? Or is the speaker emphasising the ending in that audio in an unnatural way?
     

    jarabina

    Senior Member
    English - Scotland
    (Non-native speaker alert.)

    The stress is not on é but on o - but é is longer than o.

    If you compare the pronunciation of krátký with špatný, you will hear the difference between a stressed long vowel and a stressed short vowel. And here of course stressed means amplified. I think we (native English speakers) tend to want to lengthen the vowel when stressing it because of unstressed vowel reduction in English.

    As a native speaker of English myself, I think the whole question of Czech stress/long vowels can be particularly confusing for us. This is because Czech has long versions of some of its short vowels e.g. e and é, a and á. This is not a feature of English - vowel perception is based on differences in quality not length. Secondly vowel length is remarkably consistent in Czech - long vowels are always pretty much the same length and short vowels are always pretty much the same length. This is not the case in English. It is what gives the languages their very different rhythms (and us our accents!).

    If you compare the vowel length in words like bade and bate, bride and bribe, bad and bat, you will see that the length of the vowel is longer in the words with d. I think this variation in English and the unstressed vowel reduction mean that we notice and interpret vowel length and vowel stress differently from Czechs.
     

    djwebb1969

    Banned
    English - England
    Jarabina, that's great as an explanation. But you didn't listen to the audio clips I linked to. Dobrého in the audio is clearly stressed on the middle syllable. I think the OP and I are interested in a reply from someone **engaging** with the fact that proven audio files have a middle stress. There is no way that that audio clip is stressed on anything other than the é. Now why is that?
     

    djwebb1969

    Banned
    English - England
    I've been sure for some time that something other than a stress on the first syllable is going on here. Some other better explanation should be found. Look at this PDF: http://goo.gl/11gcQV

    It argues there on p2 "Czech accents are felt as weak by many foreign listeners, which may be due to low tones which frequently accompany the stressed syllable, as well as to the troublesome interference of segmental vowel length".

    On dobrého above, the "tone" of do- is low, followed by a high tone for -é-. An English speaker might interpret the rise in tone on -é- as indicating the stress, but it seems this PDF supports the view that the accented syllable has a low tone.

    Another example is potom . If you listen at http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/potom - it sounds like the stress is on the -tom, but using the theory in that PDF, the po- has a low tone, and the -tom a high tone. I know Czech isn't actually a tone language - but I think the way the stress is achieved throws the English speaker off the scent - the stress is on po-, but it sounds to us like it's on -tom...
     
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