Now what’s going on?

Stress and the Internet.

In class we were reading one of many newsademic articles which I’ve col­lected over the past few months and would now like to have the classes work through. One of the answers included Vietnam, which I duly tran­scribed phonemically only to have one of the kids say that I’d got the stress contour wrong, having transcribed the word as Viétnàm. I listened to my­self say the word, but could not for the life of me hear myself saying Viètnám until I compared it to a normal English compound noun later. It’s possible that the Viètnám pattern in (pseudo-)compounds is so infrequent that my perception is limited. It’s also possible that since it was used so frequently in the phrase “Vietnam War” (which is subject to the Thirteen Man stress shift1) when I was young that Mr Brain never really got his neuron around the stress pattern.

Notes
1. Viètnám Wár becomes Viétnàm Wár because of the clash of stressed syllables.

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