Accenting Syllables?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Carcano, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. Carcano Valued Senior Member

    I have a question about how Greek and Japanese speakers verbalize multi syllable Lysimachos or Yokohama.

    Do they always emphasize the second syllable with a slightly higher pitch, or is there some other rule for 3-4 syllable words?
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I'm not an expert on Greek, but it seems that most of their words are accented either on the penult, the next-to-last syllable, or the antepenult, the one before that. Thus we have Greek words like hy-po-THET-ic-al.

    So you have to count back from the last syllable, not forward from the first one. You're thinking in the paradigm of English and the other Germanic languages, in which (native) words are accented on the first syllable, no matter how long they are, or sometimes the second syllable if the first one is a prefix like for- or be-.

    Czech also accents the first syllable, without exception. But in many other languages the accent is closer to the end of the word. French accents the last syllable without exception. In most of the other Romance languages the accent is usually on the next-to-last (the penult), but with rampant exceptions.

    As for Japanese, you have to rethink the definition of a "word." Most Japanese words are compounds of one-, two-, or occasionally three-syllable root words. The root words are always accented on the first syllable.

    Yokohama = yoko hama, "beside (the) shore." So it's pronounced YO-ko-HA-ma.

    Toyota = toyo ta, "rich field." So it's pronounced TO-yo-TA.

    Ogawa = o kawa, "big river." So it's pronounced O-GA-wa.
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  5. Carcano Valued Senior Member

    English speakers usually

    I would have thought the Japanese would say...yo-KO-ha-ma...because this is the way ancient Greek words are usually spoken.

    Artemis for example is a Greek

    The second syllable is accented with a slightly higher pitch.

    Same goes for a name like Agathocles...a-GA-tho-cles.
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Yes, but we mangle foreign words pretty badly. We pronounce the French words chaise longue as if the second word were spelled "lounge." It's "shaze long".
    Japanese and Greek are not related. As I mentioned, yoko and hama are both individual words and they retain their accent when shoved together to form a name. We also say SU-zu-KI incorrectly.
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    You might find these links useful:


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