Stress

Stress is the word used to indicate which of the syllables of a word is given primary emphasis in a word when spoken. For example, in English, the word “discus” (the disc that is hurled in the Olympic event) is “stressed” on the first syllable “dis-“, while the word “discuss” (to talk about something) is “stressed” on the second syllable “-cuss”. In English this distinction is not marked in any way (other than the doubling of the letter s in this particular case).

Because English does not have a system of stress marking, typically, the stress of an English word must be learned and memorised. Some rules exist to help determine the placement of stress in English words, but English is rife with exceptions to these rules.

Talossan, on the other hand, has both:

  • a definite rule that determines where stress is placed on words in which no vowel is marked (that is, this rule determines which syllable is in “default stress position” in a word, and therefore need not be marked) and
  • an easy to use system of stressmarking that is used consistently to mark all words in which the spoken stress is to be placed on a syllable that is not in “default stress position”. (That is, by marking a stressed e to become é, a stressed ä to become ã, and so forth.)

Determining the Stressed Syllable

Students familiar with Spanish and other Romance languages are probably quite at home with the concept of stressmarking only when necessary, and omitting stressmarks when stress falls in the “default position” for that language. The stress rule in Spanish, for example, is that (unless otherwise marked) stress falls on the pænultimate (second-to-last) syllable of all words that end in a vowel, or n or s; otherwise, stress falls on the word’s final syllable. This is why a Spanish name like José is stressmarked as is a Spanish word like médico, while words such as toro (stressed on the initial syllable to-) and matador (stressed on the final syllable -dor) contain no stressmark. [One interesting note here while speaking of Spanish stress; note the necessary stressmarking that is done in only one of the two similar surnames Gonzales and González.]

Talossan’s stress rule, given below, is perhaps a bit more complicated than the rule in Spanish, but not so much so that you should be intimidated. With a bit of practice, the stress system will begin to come naturally to you.

THE STRESS RULE:If any syllable of a word contains a stress-marked vowel, then that syllable is stressed. Otherwise, the syllable to be stressed is determined by applying this Rule of Stress:

Stress falls on the syllable containing the final vowel that is either marked with an umlaut (ä, ö, or ü) or followed by a consonant, after ignoring word-terminal -s and the word endings -en(s), -ent(s), -er(s), -esch(en), -eu(x), -ica(s), -ic(i), -(esch)laiset(s), -lor, -mint(s), -p(h)äts, and -sqab(s) (if the word ends with one of these). For the purposes of this rule, an i or u that immediately follows any vowel, and an e that immediately follows an a, are treated as consonants.

NOTES:

  1. In words like mici (= crumbs), troica (= trio), and ricas (= windrows), in which the stress rule fails to identify a stressed syllable, stress falls on the first syllable.
  2. The optional final-syllable stress on a verb conjugated into the third-person singular future tense form is not marked. For instance, we write lirarha (= he/she/it will read), even though a speaker may stress the final syllable. [The final-syllable stress on the irregular verb conjugations ischà (= ‘he/she/it will go/come’), säperà (= ‘he/she/it will know’), and serà (= ‘he/she/it will be’) is not optional, and is marked.]
  3. The words azul (= ‘greetings’), acest (= ‘this, that’), vidarh (= ‘to see’), and embù (= ‘both’) may optionally be stressed on their first syllable.
  4. In abbreviations where omitted letters are indicated by an apostrophe, stress is determined by the word’s original spelling. Thus, éu lament’ (= ‘I am sorry’) is stressed on the e, and treslais’t (= ‘third’) is stressed on the e.

By these rules, default stress falls on the final syllable – cunceßetz (= you all admit) –, the pænultimate syllable – cunceßent (= we/they admit) –, or the antepænultimate syllable – cunceßadamint (= admittedly).

Stress Determination Examples

Here are some examples, to provide an idea of what all of this means:

    • The word áinxhell (= angel) is stressed on the marked vocalic ai. Without the stressmark (i.e., *ainxhell), stress would fall on the e.
    • The word aglhén (= alien) is stressed on the vocalic e, as marked. In *aglhen, stress would fall on the a, as -en would be unanalysed.
    • The word avenü (= avenue) is stressed on the vocalic ü, being a word-final umlaut-marked vowel.
    • The word lostledan (= beaver) is stressed on the vocalic a, which precedes the word’s final consonant, n.
    • The word osprei (= after) is stressed on the final vocalic, ei, since the letter i is considered to be a consonant for the pusposes of the rule. Thus, the vocalic containing the preceding vowel, e, is stressed.
    • Similarly, the word citaes (= cities) is stressed on the vocalic ae.
    • The word c’hronicas (= chronicles) is stressed on the vowel o, which is the final vowel preceding n, the word’s final consonant (with the word-ending -icas being unanalysed).
    • The noun corent (= current) is stressed on the vowel o, as the vowel that precedes the final consonant, r (with -ent unanalysed).
    • The adjective corentic (= current) is stressed on the vocalic e, since only -ic is unanalysed; this contrasts with stress on corent (above).
    • Both virüs (= virus) and virüsen (= viruses) are stressed on ü; in virüs, the -s is ignored and stress is taken by the (then) final umlaut-marked vowel; as for virüsen, -en is unanalysed and the ü takes stress by virtue of preceding the word’s then-final consonant, s.
    • The word alis (= winged) is stressed on a, which precedes the final consonant (word-final -s being unanalysed). However, the plural form of this word, alisen, is stressed on i, as this word’s unanalysed ending is -en.

Notice that in some specific cases, the plural form of a word will allow a stress mark seen to indicate irregular stress on the singular form to be removed. For example, grinfè (= talon) is pluralised as grinfens, tepistà (= hooligan) as tepistaes, and cumpeténs (= cool) as cumpetensen. Rules for creating Talossan plurals are covered in more detail on another Webpage.