Any language is more than sounds. When you speak you have to pronounce the sounds, but you also have to use the right stress, intonation, rate, and rhythm.
Stress, as it relates to speech, is defined as the intensity of utterance, given to a speech sound, syllable or word producing relative loudness
So some syllables or words are given more emphasis. We do this by making the syllable, word or phrase a bit louder or longer. Or by increasing our pitch. In words the syllable that is stressed does not change. But changing the word stressed in a sentence can change the meaning of the sentence.
Read the following words aloud emphasizing the part of the word in bold letters:
Now try emphasizing a different part and see how they sound different:
In a sentence, stress is used to help convey the meaning. In the sentence “Mary made bread for dinner”, placing the stress on different words can change the message or what is important in the message.
Mary made bread for dinner. (Mary made it, not someone else)
Mary made bread for dinner. (she made it, she did not buy it)
Mary made bread for dinner. (she made bread, not muffins or rolls)
Mary made bread for dinner. (she made the bread for dinner, not another meal)
You may be thinking there are rules about what syllables or words to stress or emphasize. And you would be correct! We’ll save the rules for the next post, so check back soon!