In spite of the fact that word stress in English is free, there are certain factors that determine the location and different degree of it. Prof. V. A. Vassilyev describes them as follows:
* the recessive tendency;
* the rhythmic tendency;
* the retentive tendency and
* the semantic factor
The first and the oldest of the English lexical stress tendencies (characteristic of all Germanic languages) known as the recessive tendency originally consisted in placing lexical stress on the initial syllable of nouns, adjectives and verbs derived from them and on the root syllable of words which belonged to other parts of speech and had a prefix. In most cases prefixes lost their referential meaning since then, with the result that recessive stress in present-day English of two subtypes:
1) unrestricted: when stress falls on the initial syllable, provided it is not a prefix which has no referential meaning. A great majority of native English words of Germanic origin are stressed this way: father mother husband, `wonder
2) restricted: when stress falls on the root of the native English words with a prefix which has no referential meaning now: a'mong, be'come, before,fo,'get, etc.
There are certain categories of English words stressing of which is determined the semantic factor, e.g. compound words and words with the so-called separable prefix The majority of such words have two equally strong stresses, both stressed parts considered to be of equal semantic importance, with the semantic factor thus canceling rhythmic tendency in word stressing, e.g.
* compound adjectives: hard-working, blue-eyed,
* verbs with post positions sit down, take off
* numerals from 13 to 19:fourteen, sixteen.
It should be noted that the rhythmic tendency becomes operative when such work occur in sentences and the first stress of a double-stressed English word disappears in an immediately or closely preceding word requires stress: a `very good-looking `girl.
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