Difference between revisions of "Ferment (pronunciation)"

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*The [[noun]] 'a '''ferment'''<nowiki>'</nowiki> has the stress on the first syllable: 'FIR-ment', {{IPA|ˈfɜː<sup>r</sup> mənt}}.
 
*The [[noun]] 'a '''ferment'''<nowiki>'</nowiki> has the stress on the first syllable: 'FIR-ment', {{IPA|ˈfɜː<sup>r</sup> mənt}}.
 
*The [[verb]] 'to '''ferment'''<nowiki>'</nowiki> has the stress on its second syllable: 'fir-MENT', {{IPA|fə<sup>r</sup> ˈmɛnt}}.
 
*The [[verb]] 'to '''ferment'''<nowiki>'</nowiki> has the stress on its second syllable: 'fir-MENT', {{IPA|fə<sup>r</sup> ˈmɛnt}}.
::The root meaning is of a biochemical process, most usually based on the action of yeast. Yeast is used to convert the sugars in various natural liquids, such as grape juice into alcohol, with carbon dioxide as a by-product. In some alcoholic drinks, such as beer and champagne, the carbon dioxide is valued in addition to the alcohol: it produces the bubbles and foam that give sparkling wines their informal names of 'fizz' and 'bubbly'. In the analogous process (baking)applied to various flours, the alcohol is the by-product (and largely driven off in the oven); the carbon dioxide 'raises' the bread. The earliest meaning of the [[noun]] '''ferment''' in ''[[OED]]'' is simply 'yeast', or 'leaven', and the earliest quotation refers to bread-making, rather than brewing or wine-making. In the nineteenth century, chemists applied the word to what are now called 'enzymes'.
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::The root meaning is of a biochemical process, most usually based on the action of yeast. Yeast is used to convert the sugars in various natural liquids, such as grape juice into alcohol, with carbon dioxide as a by-product. In some alcoholic drinks, such as beer and champagne, the carbon dioxide is valued in addition to the alcohol: it produces the bubbles and foam that give sparkling wines their informal names of 'fizz' and 'bubbly'. In the analogous process (baking) applied to various flours, the alcohol is the by-product (and largely driven off in the oven); the carbon dioxide 'raises' the bread. The earliest meaning of the [[noun]] '''ferment''' in ''[[OED]]'' is simply 'yeast', or 'leaven', and the earliest quotation refers to bread-making, rather than brewing or wine-making. In the nineteenth century, chemists applied the word to what are now called 'enzymes'.
::There are many [[figurative]] uses of the word '''ferment'''. Apart from similar processes in various biological and chemical fields, the general idea is of 'excitement', or rapidly working changes. ([[etymological|Etymologically]] speaking, '''ferment''' is derived from the [[Latin]] [[verb]] ''fervēre'', 'to boil'.) In political and historical contexts, one can have a riot '''fermented''' by agitators, and an orator may work himself up into a '''ferment''' of rage. Equally, an exciting time in a  university may be described as a '''ferment''' of ideas. You may also wqant to see3 [[ferment - foment]] for a note on a common confusion.
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::There are many [[figurative]] uses of the word '''ferment'''. Apart from similar processes in various biological and chemical fields, the general idea is of 'excitement', or rapidly working changes. ([[etymological|Etymologically]] speaking, '''ferment''' is derived from the [[Latin]] [[verb]] ''fervēre'', 'to boil'.) In political and historical contexts, one can have a riot '''fermented''' by agitators, and an orator may work himself up into a '''ferment''' of rage. Equally, an exciting time in a  university may be described as a '''ferment''' of ideas. You may also wqant to see [[ferment - foment]] for a note on a common confusion.
  
 
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Latest revision as of 11:58, 23 May 2020

The word ferment is pronounced differently, according to whether it is used as a noun or a verb.

  • The noun 'a ferment' has the stress on the first syllable: 'FIR-ment', IPA: /ˈfɜːr mənt/.
  • The verb 'to ferment' has the stress on its second syllable: 'fir-MENT', IPA: /fər ˈmɛnt/.
The root meaning is of a biochemical process, most usually based on the action of yeast. Yeast is used to convert the sugars in various natural liquids, such as grape juice into alcohol, with carbon dioxide as a by-product. In some alcoholic drinks, such as beer and champagne, the carbon dioxide is valued in addition to the alcohol: it produces the bubbles and foam that give sparkling wines their informal names of 'fizz' and 'bubbly'. In the analogous process (baking) applied to various flours, the alcohol is the by-product (and largely driven off in the oven); the carbon dioxide 'raises' the bread. The earliest meaning of the noun ferment in OED is simply 'yeast', or 'leaven', and the earliest quotation refers to bread-making, rather than brewing or wine-making. In the nineteenth century, chemists applied the word to what are now called 'enzymes'.
There are many figurative uses of the word ferment. Apart from similar processes in various biological and chemical fields, the general idea is of 'excitement', or rapidly working changes. (Etymologically speaking, ferment is derived from the Latin verb fervēre, 'to boil'.) In political and historical contexts, one can have a riot fermented by agitators, and an orator may work himself up into a ferment of rage. Equally, an exciting time in a university may be described as a ferment of ideas. You may also wqant to see ferment - foment for a note on a common confusion.
Note
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:
He was con-VICT-ed (IPA: /kən ˈvɪkt ɪd/) of theft, and so became a CON vict (IPA: /ˈkɒn vɪkt/)" (AWE's rendition of IPA).
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.