Accent (Stress)

(467 words)
  • John Constable (University of Cambridge; now Renewable Energy Foundation)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

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 …

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Constable, John. "Accent (Stress)". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 June 2002
[, accessed 25 October 2014.]