Explain how stress can change the meaning of a word or phrase, esp. with compounds.
Stress is a property of the syllable rather than a segment; it is a prosodicor suprasegmental feature. To produce a stressed syllable, one may change thepitch (usually by raising it), make the syllable louder, or make it longer. We oftenuse all three of these phonetic means to stress a syllable
When words are combined into phrases and sentences, one syllable receivesgreater stress than all others. That is, just as there is only one primary stress in a word spoken in isolation, only one of the vowels in a phrase (or sentence) receives primary stress or accent. All of the other stressed vowels are reduced tosecondary stress. In English we place primary stress on the adjectival part of acompound noun (which may be written as one word, two words separated by ahyphen, or two separate words), but we place the stress on the noun when thewords are a noun phrase consisting of an adjective followed by a noun. The dif-ferences between the following pairs are therefore predictable:
tíghtrope (“a rope for acrobatics”) tight rópe (“a rope drawn taut”)Rédcoat (“a British soldier”) red cóat (“a coat that is red”)hótdog (“a frankfurter”) hot dóg (“an overheated dog”)Whíte House (“the President’s house”) white hóuse (“a house paintedwhite”