A neat question about the function of stress

Subject: What does it meme?

> Something that’s been on my mind recently..
> What is stress for? (In speaking, not in marital relationships)
> I got to thinking about stress with Latin, since it’s so regular. Is it
> a way of telling the listener, “Hey! end of the root, coming on the
> inflection!”
> What about other languages?

I can tell you that French, for instance, stresses the word at the end of the sentence or phrase, not individual words. To trace the evolution of a language and how it might wind up that way (incidentally, I just committed an “anticipation” in writing-== I wrote “mind” instead of “might” b/c I was thinking of “wind”).

So if you study the evolution of French, you find absolutely fascinating equilibrating going in in the system as the ends of words were lost and individual words became very tiny units of sound e.g. o from aqua and au from augustus=== wow! talk about reduction!

So in English, syllables can be scrunched together between stress points, thus allowing sentences of varying word length to be equally long when spoken.

A great controversy lasted decades between Nabokov and Wilson over stress in Russian poetry b/c Wilson assumed secondary stress for long Russian words as in English while Nabokov knew instuitively that Russian words have only one stress, no matter how long the word, but never thought to explicate that – it didn’t dawn on him that Wilson didn’t know this.

That’s all I have to offer. I hope you don’t mind – I’m transferring this to the blog. Others might be interested and have more to offer than I do.

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