From Hull AWE
- The verb 'to construct' (first recorded in 1663), meaning 'to build', 'to put together' or 'to assemble' (literally or figuratively); in geometry, to 'make a figure, and therefore a shape, using precise measurement of lengths, angles, etc.' The verb has the stress on the second syllable: 'k'n-STRUKT', IPA: /kə(or ɒ)n ˈstrʌkt/.
- The noun 'a construct' has the stress on the first syllable: 'CON-truct' IPA: /ˈkɒn strʌkt/. This is the newer word, not found before the late nineteenth century. According to OED, a construct is "anything constructed, esp[ecially] by the mind; hence spec[ifically], a concept specially devised to be part of a theory": anything created by the human mind to serve as a tool of thought. Subjects such a Psychology, Linguistics and Mathematics have their specific meanings about which their students will know more than AWE. People can talk of 'constructs or [mental] models'; 'constructs in the mind'; 'symbolic constructs' and so on.
- 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.