Tag Archives: Stress

What’s in a Name? Stress is Good

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Stress the right syllable
Image by quinn.anya via Flickr

It’s day 3 of our series on creating a naming language and today we’re talking about stress. Not that kind of stress — this is the emphasis we place on one syllable over the others within a word or name. Setting a set stress pattern for names can help keep your language from sounding like English with funny pronunciations.

In English, we learn which syllables to stress on a word-by-word basis. Indeed, different regions of the English speaking world can stress different syllables of the same word and names are no exception. Changing the stress pattern of word or name can change it’s pronunciation. For example, most non-natives will pronounce my home region of Oregon’s Willamette valley as WILL-a-met or-EE-gone, when it’s actuality pronounced will-A-met (to rhyme with “damn it”) OR-e-gun. Another example is the word “laboratory”. In American English, the stress is on the first syllable (LAB-or-a-tory) while in England, the stress is on the second syllable (lab-OR-a-tory).

Other languages are more regular. Hungarian stresses the first syllable, while Polish stresses the second-to-last syllable. Other languages can have more complex stress rules, depending on vowel placement within a syllable or length of syllable. My language slightly stresses the last syllable of a word.

You certainly don’t need to set a fixed stress pattern, but it can help make your language sound distinct

Next time: Pitch

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