From Hull AWE
- The noun 'a concert' has the stress on the first syllable - 'CON-sert' (IPA: /ˈkɒn sɜːrt/. Its basic meaning is 'togetherness', or 'harmony': the "Agreement of two or more persons or parties in a plan, design, or enterprise; union formed by such mutual agreement; accordance, harmony" (OED).
- Its predominant use these days is 'a performance of music', 'a gig'; an event during which several hours of music may be played. A 'cats' concert' is not a compliment: literally, it is the noise of many cats yoweling together, while figuratively, it means musicians who are not in harmony. (For an ancient error, you may like to see consort.)
- However, the phrase '[to act] in concert' means 'to co-operate' in any field.
- In the nineteenth century, the Concert of Europe was a loose organization of the great powers of the time to keep the international peace.
- A concert party was originally a group of musical performers. Business students should know that on the "Stock Market ... [it means] a number of parties buying shares in a company within the prescribed limits, with the intention of casting the votes thereby acquired as a single holding; (this practice is now illegal)" (OED).
- The verb 'to concert', with its more commonly found -ed participle is pronounced with the stress on the second syllable: 'con-SERT'/'con-SERT-ed' (IPA: /kɒn ˈsɜːrt / kɒn ˈsɜːrt ɪd/). Its basic moaning is 'to plan, or act, together': it is rarely used in a musical sense. Politiciasns, generals or conspirators, etc, may 'concert a plan', but the more usual idiom is that they 'come to a concerted plan'.
- To be disconcerted, along with its base form the verb disconcert, (both have the stress on the third syllable, 'dis-con-SERT/dis-con-SERT-ed', (IPA: /dis kɒn ˈsɜːrt / dis kɒn ˈsɜːrt ɪd/) means 'disarranged', or 'thrown out of harmony'. More commonly, it is used to mean 'to have one's self-possession shaken', or 'to be put out of harmony with oneself and one's relationship with one's context': "He was disconcerted when his wife argued against him in a public meeting".
- This pattern of shifting stress in words that look identical but belong to two separate word classes is quite common in English. Quirk (1985) (Appendix I.56 B) remarks: "When verbs of two syllables are converted into nouns, the stress is sometimes shifted from the second to the first syllable. The first syllable, typically a Latin prefix, often has a reduced vowel /ə/ in the verb but a full vowel in the noun:
- There follows a list of some 57 "words having end-stress as verbs but initial stress as nouns in Br[itish] E[nglish]." Note that "in Am[erican] E[nglish], many have initial stress as verbs also". Quirk's list is the foundation of AWE's category:shift of stress. Additions have been made from, amongst others, Fowler, 1926-1996.