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Stressful English

It is kind of stressful for Japanese learners of English to recognize where the stress in each English word should be.

In every English word that has more than one syllable, there is one stressed syllable -- Word Stress. On the other hand, Japanese has no distinct word stress; we pronounce each syllable in a word with equal emphasis. For example, when you pronounce "Yokohama" (a city in Japan), you will want to say like "yo-ko-HA-ma", whereas we say it "yo-ko-ha-ma", giving each syllable equal stress, length and fairly flat intonation. So if we use word stress in speaking Japanese, we can imitate the way a person from an English-speaking country speaks Japanese. And can you say "Makudonarudo" correctly? Hehe. The fact is, it's a Japanese way of saying "MacDonald".

Yesterday, during a class, a student pronounced "Canada" as "caNAda". And, alas, it was transmitted to some other students. -- Before that, they had learned "baNAna". That must be kinda "Banana-Syndrome". Oh. Needless to say, their assignment for the next class is to pronounce "Canada" correctly.

Comments

Too funny! The "Banana-Syndrome"! I've always heard English is the toughest language to learn and I'm beginning to see why.

Yeah, that seems very infectious. :)

If you ever talk to a Japanese in English and can't catch a certain word that s/he says, please pay attention to her/his word stress. S/he may have misplaced the stress. Oh and "l" and "r". ;)

Very interesting. Perhaps life would be less STRESSful, if I simply pronounced it stressful.
I think I will give it a try.

Thanks for the meaningful words, Norm. ;)

If you look at it the other way around... it's hard for English-speakers to pronounce Japanese properly as well (yes, I mean me!).

on Darren's point, and related to the original post, here are some words Japanese learners like myself have a hard time distinguishing:

HAshi (chopsticks) / haSHI (bridge)
Ame (rain) / aME (candy)
aTSUi (hot) / atsui (thick)
kuMO (clouds) / KUmo (spider)
aKI (empty) / Aki (autumn)

keep in mind that the stresses noted above are much more subtle than they are in English, and quite frankly when my wife says the above words, they sound exactly the same to me.

Yes, Kurt, those are kind of stress. They are even confusing to us. But fortunately, the number of such words are limited. "Hot" and "thick" are both "aTSUi", and "cloud" is "KUmo".