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Hi there,

I am wondering why so many native speakers do not follow the stress patterns of words stated in dictionary. For example, most dictionaries suggest that we should stress 'situAtion', but some native speakers will stress both 'SItuAtion. I think when we speak a word on its own, we should follow its stress patterns suggested by the dictionary. When the word goes with other words in a sentence, people will be allowed to alter the stress pattern of the word so as to achieve effective communication.

Do you agree, native speakers?

Simon
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Well, the problem is that native speakers do not learn our words from the dictionary, we learn stresses from hearing the words. So, if the local pattern is different to the dictionary pattern, there is not much we can do about it. We can't look up every word we know and re-learn it.
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And furthermore, a dictionary is merely a tool, not a user's guide to the language. A dictionary should give examples of use by common consent by native speakers, to facilitate understanding. It is neither a code, nor a rule book.
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Merriam-Webster on-line (www.m-w.com) shows "si-ch&-'wA-sh&n.
Note that the first syllable has a secondary stress. English is characterized by "alternate stress pattern". That is, most English words contain a stress pattern of alternating stressed and unstressed syllables. situation is a typical example. Even though the main stress is on the third syllable, the alternate stress pattern of English means that the first syllable will receive a secondary stress.

The same is true of these words:

education, elevation, constitution, interjection, revolution, declaration
understanding, comprehensive, independent, academic, photographic


and many others.

If the main stress is on the first syllable, the third syllable is quite likely to receive secondary stress, following the same principle.

commentary, adversary, allegory, promissory
latitude, aptitude, valentine, corduroy, misanthrope, Amazon, asteroid


and many others.

CJ
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Hi there,

But for the example 'situation', I found a lot of native speakers will give equal stress on this word 'SitUation', 'EduCation, InforMation' instead of giving secondary stress on the first syllable and the main stress on the third syllable.

Simon
Hmmm. You're listening to different native speakers than I am! Emotion: smile

CJ