Why does the stress fall on the antepenult of “carCInogen” but on the preantepenult of “halLUcinogen”?

I note that “carcinogen” might also be stressed on its preantepenult, in which case the question would become why the two words should have their stress so far away from the end when a stress nearer to it sounds easier on the ear (i.e. “carCInogen” easier than “CARcinogen” or “halluCInogen” than “halLUcinogen”). I have traced … Read more

How is “composite” as a verb pronounced in British English?

I always pronounce "composite" as COM-posite when it is used as an adjective or a noun. But in some technical contexts as "alpha compositing" it is also used as a verb, and in this case I discovered myself reading out as com-POZ-ite. As a non-native speaker of English, I got unsure about the pronunciation, so … Read more

/ɪ/ sound when not stressed

I’ve seen that some words in English are pronounced with the /ɪ/ sound when the vowel is not stressed. Some examples include: pocket /ˈpɒkɪt/, comet /ˈkɒmɪt/. But hundred /ˈhʌndrəd/. Is there any pronunciation rule here when the words end in /t/? Answer Some people do use /ɪ/ in “hundred”, according to the American Heritage Dictionary … Read more

What are the historical justifications for first-syllable stress in the word “orthoepy”?

Funnily enough, the word orthoepy (or orthoëpy) meaning “(the study of) correct (or standard) pronunciation” has no single established correct pronunciation: it may be stressed on either the first or the second syllable (there is also variation in the pronunciation of the vowel in the penult syllable). I’m curious about how the variant with stress … Read more

Since English is a stress-timed language, why have poets chosen to write in iambic pentameter?

Since English is a stress-timed language, why have poets chosen to write in iambic pentameter? Doesn’t the language already have a natural rhythm without resorting to meter? And isn’t that natural rhythm already quite close to iambic pentameter? Answer (Note: It’s actually a matter of some debate whether there really exist “syllable-timed” and “stress-timed” languages; … Read more

What is the poetic meter of ‘O.K.’?

Is the acronym “O.K.” generally pronounced as an iamb or a trochee? Or is it context-dependent? Answer This specific question can be answered by any dictionary. However, there is a more general question underlying it which may merit closer attention, and that is how pretty much all two-letter letter-pairs in English place the stress on … Read more

Why are diacritics used in words that apparently don’t need them? Is it some sort of poetic license?

In his poem Spring and Fall, Gerard Manley Hopkins uses diacritics where one would normally not see them. Does anyone know why? Here is the poem: Márgarét, áre you gríeving Over Goldengrove unleaving? Leáves like the things of man, you With your fresh thoughts care for you, can you? Ah! ás the heart grows older … Read more