Accent (pronunciation)

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The word accent is pronounced differently according to whether it is a verb or a noun.

  • The noun 'an accent' is stressed on the first syllable, 'AX-ent', IPA: /ˈæks ɛnt/.
  • The verb 'to accent' (to stress, usually a syllable) has the stress on the second syllable, 'ax-SENT', IPA: /æks ˈɛnt/.
    • The -ed participle, used as an adjective to mean '[speaking an] English whose sound shows that the speaker is not a native speaker of English, is accented, with stress on the second syllable: 'ax-SENT-ed', IPA: /æks ˈɛnt əd/.

You may also want to see other articles about accent.

  • For the way in which different speakers sound, see Accent and dialect.
  • For the written marks, see written accent.
  • For the phenomenon in pronunciation where one unit is made stronger, see stress.
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) describes the most common: "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.