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Unit 17. 'Hair-,raising and ,Hard-'working.

Stress in Compound Adjectives and in Abbreviations.

Unit 17; Part A

A compound adjective is a fixed expression which is made up of more than one word and which has the function of an adjective. Most compound adjectives are written with a hyphen, but a few are written as one word:




The following types of compound adjective usually have main stress on the first part:
  • compound adjectives usually written as one word
  Exceptions: ,nation'wide  ,hand'made
  • noun + -ing form
  • noun + past participle
  Exceptions: ,eagle-'eyed  ,home-'grown

Unit 17; Part B

The following types of compound adjective usually have main stress on the second part:
  • noun + adjective
,snow-'white(and other colour compounds)
  Exception: 'camera-shy
  • adjective + noun
  ,long -'term
  • adverb or adjective + past participle
  • adverb or adjective + -ing form
  Exceptions: 'backward-,looking, 'forward-,looking
  • self- as the first part

Most compound adjectives with main stress on the second part
(including the exceptions in 17B) can have stress shift (see Unit 10B). Compare:
          The tiger was fully-GROWN.    but:   It was a FULly-grown TIger.
          The prices were sky-HIGH.  
  but: They were SKY-high PRIces.

Unit 17; Part C

Two-, three- and four-letter abbreviations said as individual letters often have main stress on the last letter and secondary stress on the first:
         the ,E'U    the ,U'K    the ,BB'C    ,DN'A    the ,YMC'A

Abbreviations like this usually have stress shift. Compare:
        He works for the BBC.   
but:    He works for BBC RAdio.
        She's from the UK.  
  but:    She's a UK CITizen.



flag.jpgDo these compound adjectives have main stress in their first part or their second part? Underline the syllable with main stress.
Examples: sky-high     colour-coded

1    homesick
2    far-fetched
3    spine-chilling
4    mind-blowing        
5    armour-plated
6    cinemagoing
7    gift-wrapped
8    well-meaning           
9      empty-handed
10    fireproof
11    self-financing
12    machine-readable

Now listen and check your answers. Then say the compounds aloud. Which one is an exception to the rules given in B and C opposite? 
flag.jpgRead the profile of Sarah Fox. Focus on the compound adjectives in bold (some are given in B and C opposite) and circle the syllable you think will have main stress. Remember some have stress shift.

Now listen and check your answers. Finally, read the description aloud.

flag.jpgDo you know the meaning of the abbreviations in column A? If not, check in a dictionary or the Key. Then listen to the abbreviations and repeat them. Notice that the main stress is always on the last letter. Finally, choose an appropriate abbreviation from each pair to complete the sentence in column B.

 1 CEO / DVD
She's the company's       CEO      .
 2 AOB / PC
My laptop was advertised in a magazine called __________ World.
 3 OHP / NHS
She works as a nurse for the  __________.
 4 ATM / RP
There aren't many people here who speak __________.
 5 AGM / RSI 
The  __________'s cancelled.
 6 TLC / VAT
She just needs a lot of rest and a bit of __________.
 7 UFO / WHO
We've followed all the __________ guidelines.
 8 EU / RSVP
They're meeting at the __________ summit in Brussels. 
 9 CV / ETA
If there are no delays, what's your __________?
The software's on a __________-ROM.
11 CND / DIY
He spends most weekends doing __________. 
12 GMT / HGV
The eclipse is at 9 o'clock __________.

Now listen and check your answers. Finally, say the sentences aloud. The Key gives details of stress shift.

Follow up:  Skim through an English newspaper (either a paper copy or online), and find compound adjectives. Do you know where the main stress is in each of them? (Use a dictionary to check.) 

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