Accent (Stress)

(467 words)
  • John Constable (University of Cambridge)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.

Linguistic term which refers to that vocal quality of a syllable which distinguishes it from adjacent syllables by making it more prominent, usually by virtue of articulatory force (roughly equivalent to volume and involving a ‘chest pulse’), pitch, and duration, or, as is common in English, by a combination of some or all of these features.

In many English prosodies the term is roughly equivalent to ‘stress’, but usage of both terms varies very widely from period to period and author to author, and the reader should not expect consistent usage, but instead ensure that they are aware of the meanings being employed in a particular context. For example, while some looser and perhaps unthinking writers may employ the …

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Constable, John. "Accent (Stress)". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 June 2002
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]