Sunday, May 1, 2016

Stress Differences in British and American English

The two main varieties of English, British and American, have a number of pronunciation differences. This is also true for stress. A number of words are stressed differently in British and American English. Here is a list:

adult ballet brochure cigarette debris
donate hospitable magazine vaccine vibrate

In British English the words adult, ballet, brochure, debris and vaccine place the stress on the first syllable. American English places it on the second.

In British English the words cigarette, magazine and vibrate are stressed on the final syllable. In American English they're stressed on the first. The word hospitable is stressed on the first syllable in American English and on the second in British English. Here we can see how the words are stressed in the two varieties of English:

American English

a'dult ba'llet bro'chure 'cigarette de'bris
'donate 'hospitable 'magazine vac'cine 'vibrate

British English

'adult 'ballet 'brochure ciga'rette 'debris
do'nate ho'spitable maga'zine 'vaccine vi'brate

In my accent (Canadian English), I stress adult, ballet, brochure, debris, vaccine and vibrate as in American English, but I stress cigarette, donate, hospitable and magazine as in British English.

Many words are stressed differently in British and American English. A number of words of French origin such as ballet and brochure are stressed on the final syllable in American English but on the first in British. Canadian English tends to stress words as in American English, but many Canadian speakers stress some words as in British English.

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