Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stress in British and American English

Many words are stressed differently in British and American English.   French loanwords are often stressed on an earlier syllable in British English than in American.  In other cases, American English stresses an earlier syllable.

The following French loanwords have first-syllable stress in British English and final-syllable stress in American:  adult, ballet, brochure, buffet, cafe, chalet, croissant, garage, gourmet, salon, vaccine.

The following words with the suffix -ate have first-syllable stress in American English and final-syllable stress in British:  dictate, migrate, rotate, vibrate.

These words also have first-syllable stress in American English.  In British English, the stress is on the second syllable:  mama, marshmallow, papa, weekend.  However, with words such as caffeine and paprika the reverse is true.  They have first-syllable stress in British English.

The number of words with stress differences in British and American English is far greater than the list given here.  Nevertheless, this list illustrates that one group includes  French loanwords and another words with the suffix -ate.

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