Lexical Stress Patterns in High-Frequency Words of Spoken English
Keywords:English, lexical stress, lexical stress patterns, high-frequency general English lexis, high-frequency academic English lexis, teaching and learning, SLA
Lexical stress patterns exhibited by the most frequent English words are significant for teaching practice as well as for SLA research, although they have received much less attention than frequency effects in other segments of language structure. This paper describes and ranks lexical stress patterns according to their share in the most frequent lexis in general and academic registers. The patterns identified in the corpus consisting of 2- to 6- syllable words in the Longman Communication 3000 frequency list (that provides data on the most frequent words in general English) are compared to previous researchers’ data obtained from the corpus based on the Hoosier Mental Lexicon (that provides data on native speakers’ familiarity ratings and response time for high-frequency words) and the corpus based on the Academic Word List (consisting of the most frequent words in academic discourse). Although the three corpora vary in size and domain, in the two general English corpora there are strong correspondences reagarding 2- and 3-syllable words; with 4-syllable words correspondences are noted in all the three corpora. This validates dominant lexical stress patterns, to which the learners are most often exposed. Insight into the representation of lexical stress patterns in high-frequency lexis facilitates the selection of items for vocabulary exercises in language learning (intended not only for pronunciation practice but also for learners’ vocabulary development), as well as the selection of stimuli for experiments regarding L1 and L2 effects in interlanguage development.
Aitchison, J. 2004. Words in the Mind: An Introduction to the Mental Lexicon. 3rd Edition. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Publishers.
Baker, A. & J. Murphy. 2011. Knowledge base of pronunciation teaching: staking out the territory. TESL Canada Journal 28(2), 29–50.
Benrabah, M. 1997. Word-stress – a source of unintelligibility in English. International Review of Applied Linguistics 35(3), 145–165.
Clopper, C. G. 2002. Frequency of stress patterns in English: A computational analysis. IULC Working Papers 2(1), 1–9.
Cobb, T. 2007. Computing the vocabulary demands of L2 reading. Language Learning & Technology 11(3), 38–63.
Coxhead, A. 2000. A new academic word list. TESOL Quarterly 34(2), 213–238.
Cutler, A. & D. Carter. 1987. The predominance of strong initial syllables in the English vocabulary. Computer Speech and Language 2, 133–142.
Ellis, N. 2012. What can we count in language, and what counts in language acquisition, cognition, and use? In S. Gries & D. Divjak (eds.) Frequency Effects in Language Learning and Processing. 2 vols. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
Meara, P. 1983. Word associations in a foreign language. Nottingham Linguistics Circular 11(2), 29–38.
Murphy, J. 2004. Attending to word stress while learning new vocabulary. English for Specific Purposes 23, 67–83.
Murphy, J. & M. Kandil. 2004. Word-level stress patterns in the academic word list. System 32(1), 61–74.
Lepage, A. & M. Busà. 2014. Intelligibility of English L2: The effects of incorrect word stress placement and incorrect vowel reduction in the speech of French and Italian learners of English. Concordia Working Papers in Applied Linguistics 5, 387–400.
Lepage, A. 2015. The Contribution of Word Stress and Vowel Reduction to the Intelligibility of the Speech of Canadian French Second Language Learners of English. Laval University. Unpublished doctoral dissertation.
Liu, N. & I. S. P. Nation. 1985. Factors affecting guessing vocabulary in context. RELC Journal 16(1), 33–42.
Longman Communication 3000. [Internet]. Available at: https://www.lextutor.ca/freq/lists_download/longman_3000_list.pdf [22. 11. 2020].
Nation, P. & R. Waring. 1997. Vocabulary size, text coverage and word lists. In N. Schmitt & M. McCarthy (eds.) Vocabulary: description, acquisition and pedagogy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 6–19.
Nusbaum, H., D. Pisoni, & C. Davis. 1984. Sizing up the Hoosier Mental Lexicon: Measuring the familiarity of 20,000 words. In Research on Speech Perception, Progress Report 10. Bloomington, IN: Speech Research Laboratory, Indiana University, 357–376.
Post da Silveira, A. 2011. Frequency as (dis)advantage to word stress acquisition. Proceedings of the ICPhS XVII, 1634–1637.
Přecechtěl, V. 2016. English Vocabulary Frequency and Its Use at Lower Secondary Schools. Pedagogická Fakulta Univerzita Palackého. Unpublished master’s thesis.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. [Internet]. Available at: https://ahdictionary.com/ [22. 11. 2020].
The Carnegie Mellon University Pronunciation Dictionary. [Internet]. Available at: http://www.speech.cs.cmu.edu/cgi-bin/cmudict [22. 11. 2020].
Torrie, H. 2016. Examining word-level stress patterns: Comment on Murphy & Kandil (2004). [Internet]. Available at: http://www.heathertorrie.com/2016/05/examining-word-level-stress-patterns.html [22. 11. 2020].
Zielinski, B. W. 2008. The listener: No longer the silent partner in reduced intelligibility. System 36, 69–84.
Zipf, G. K. 1935. The Psycho-Biology of Language. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Zipf, G. K. 1949. Human Behaviour and the Principle of Least Effort. An Introduction to Human Ecology. Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley.
How to Cite
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.