American English Phonetics

Another American English Faculty Project

Both in English and in Dutch, compounds that are stressed on both constituents generally lose the stress on the second constituent when another stressed syllable follows. For example, when an English compound like twenty-one or a Dutch compound like eenentwintig, is immediately or closely followed by the stressed syllable of another word, e.g. days in English or dagen in Dutch, the stress on the second constituent is suppressed:

ˈtwenty-ˈone ˈtwenty-one ˈdays
eenenˈtwintig ˈeenentwintig ˈdagen

Other examples in English are:

ˈNorth ˈSea ‘North Sea ‘oil
ˈhomeˈmade ˈhomemade ‘jam
ˈhigh-ˈspeed ‘high-speed ‘film
unˈknown ‘unknown ‘factors
to ˈfree-ˈwheel to ‘free-wheel down the hill
to ˈmake ˈup to ˈmake up a ˈstory

In English this rule also very frequently applies to words that are not compounds, as in instruˈmental, but ˈinstrumental ˈmusic, or interˈnational, but ˈinternational ˈcontacts. This extension of the rule to non-compounded words can sometimes also be heard in Dutch, but only in certain rhetorical styles, as used for instance by trade union leaders (Dit is een ˈpolitieke ˈzaak) or radio announcers (In onze serie ˈpopulaire klasˈsieken….).

Pronounce the following English examples:

Caliˈfornia  ˈCalifornia ˈwines
Norˈwegian ˈNorwegian ˈtankers
Miˈami ˈMiami ˈVice
photoˈgraphic ˈphotographic ˈmemory
 alˈready  he’s ˈalready ˈdone it
 nineˈteen  (talk) ˈnineteen to the ˈdozen