Accent (Stress)

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

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 12: Global Voices, Global Histories: World Literatures and Cultures.

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 …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Constable, John. "Accent (Stress)". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 June 2002
[, accessed 06 July 2015.]