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Unit 11. 'Comfort and 'Comfortable.

Suffixes and Word Stress (1)

Unit 11; Part A

Some words are made up of a root and a suffix:




In some words with suffixes, the stress stays on the same syllable as in the root. Compare:

            'danger   and:   'dangerous

In other words, the suffix changes the stressed syllable. Compare:
           'commerce    and:   com'mercial

Unit 11; Part B

Suffxes which don't usually change the stress pattern in the root word include -able, -age, -al (but see Unit 12 for -ial), -er, -ful, -less, -ness, -ous and -fy. For example:

'comfort - 'comfortable      
'amplify - 'amplifer  
'foolish - 'foolishness
per'cent - per'centage
re'gret - re'gretful
di'saster - di'sastrous
e'lectric - e'lectrical
re'gard - re'gardless
'eauty - 'beautify

Exceptions with -able and -al include:

ad'mire - 'admirable
'medicine - me'dicinal    
pre'fer - 'preferable 
'agriculture - agri'cultural    

Note that before the suffxes -ious, -ulous, -orous and -eous main stress usually comes in the syllable before the suffx

'industry - in'dustrious
'miracle - mi'raculous
ad'vantage - advan'tageous
'mystery - my'sterious
'carnivore - car'nivorous
'outrage - out'rageous

Unit 11; Part C

Some suffixes themselves usually have the main stress. These include -ее, -eer, -ese and -ette. For example:

Exceptions include: 'omelette, 'etiquette, em'ployee (although less commonly we use ,employ'ee).

note.jpgNote: Some people say 'cigarette.

Words with these suffixes can often have stress shift
(see Unit 10):
              She's japanESE.    but:  She's a JAPanese JOURnalist.
              He's a refuGEE.   
but: We saw photos of REFugee CHILdren.



flag.jpgComplete the sentences with pairs of words from B opposite. You should also mark the stress.
Key.(United States) Note that this speaker of American English pronounces 'herb' /з:rb/; in British English it is usually pronounced /hз:b/. Note also that 'medicine' is usually pronounced with 2 syllables /'meds∂n/, but may be pronounced with three in slow, careful speech /'medιs∂n/.)
1    di'saster - di'sastrous  
2    'outrage - out'rageous   
3    Re'gardless - re'gard   
4    'industry - in'dustrious
5    per'centage - per'cent
6    my'sterious - 'mystery
7    agri'cultural - 'agriculture

The herb is used for  me'dicinal  purposes, although it isn't usually thought of as a  'medicine

1    The journey was a _____________; in fact, the whole vacation was _____________.   
2    The decision was an _____________ - quite _____________. I was appalled.
3    _____________ of his mistakes, the president continues to be held in high _____________.
4    Workers in the steel _____________are generally skilled and  _____________.
5    The Democrats' lead is now eight _____________ points, and has risen three _____________ in the last week.
6    Her _____________ disappearance was never explained, and her whereabouts remain a _____________ until today.
7    The region is mainly _____________ land and most people here still work in _____________.

Now listen and check your answers. Then say the sentences aloud, paying attention to the stress in the words you have written.

flag.jpgThis speaker is talking about the difficulty of getting cars repaired. Focus on the words ending with the suffixes -able and -al (in bold). Listen and tick the words which follow the rule given in B - that is, they have the same stress pattern as their root.
Words with the same stress pattern as their root:
de'pendable (de'pend)  re'liable (re'ly)
me'chanical (me'chanic)  ac'ceptable (ac'cept)
pro'fessional (pro'fession) de'batable (de'bate)
Words with a diferent stress pattern from their root:
uni'versal ('universe)  'reputable (re'pute)
acci'dental ('accident)

flag.jpgHere are some extracts from a radio news programme. Underline the syllable in each word in bold that you think is likely to be made prominent. Remember, some of the words in bold are likely to have stress shift.
Key.* indicates stress shift.
1 absentee*      2 volunteer*      3 Cantonese      4 roulette     5 Sudanese*

Example:   An aircraf that crashed three years ago in the Andes has been found by mountaineers.
1    A report on the problem of absentee landlords is to be published today.
2    Five thousand volunteer helpers are to be recruited for the next Olympic Games.
3    Mandarin and Cantonese are the most widely spoken languages in China.
4    The government is considering a ban on roulette.
5    There has been an outbreak of cholera among Sudanese villagers.

Now listen and check your answers. Then read the extracts aloud.

Follow up: How many other country adjectives ending in -ese can you think of? How would you say them:(i) on their own; (ii) in the context 'the _____________ people' (e.g. the Japanese people)?

Unit 10      Unit 11     Unit 12 forward.jpg

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