Comparison of English and Arabic in Word, Stress, Intonation, and Rhythm and their Differences

Essay > Words: 3323 > Rating: Excellent > Buy full access at $1



  1. Comparison of Phonology of English and Arabic
  2. Stress

Stress is defined as the relative prominence given to specific words in a phrase and to specific syllables in words. According to Halliday (1970), there are three word levels of stress in Arabic language. These include the primary, the secondary and the weak levels. Swan and smith (2001) pointed out that stress in the Arabic language is regular and predictable. This means that an individual can determine and predict the stress of the words in Arabic. Furthermore, Swan and smith (2001) asserted that the learners of Arabic often face difficulties in predicting stress in English language, specifically in the stress of word. The difficulty in word stress grasping in English may lead to changing of the word meaning. For example, a learner may try to pronounce the verb “con’vict” like the noun “convict” where the position of stress is different completely. Aiken & Pearce (1993) summarized the stress of Arabic in following way:

  1. If a word has super heavy syllable or even more, the stress falls on, as in the super heavy syllable
  2. If a word has light and heavy syllables, the stress falls on heavy syllable just before the final syllable s in (non-final heavy syllable).
  3. If a word has light syllables, the stress falls as in, on the first syllable
  4. If a word is a past or present verb, the stress falls as in on the first syllable
  5. If a word is a feminine or masculine Arabic noun, the stress falls as in, on the second syllable

Jenkins (2003) suggested that just like the Arabic language, the words of English are also predictable, and many sets of rules that are complex have been put forward for stress prediction. In English, stress is very important as it is the main feature that distinguishes certain word pairs. According to The New Englishness 13 Nation & Newton (2009), English has the following rules of stress:

  1. The majority of the two-syllable words, on the first syllable are where stress is placed. For example, many words have two different patterns of stress according to whether they are nouns or verbs, verbs or adjectives. For instance, the first syllable of adjectives and nouns are where stressing is done, while on the verbs, the second syllable is where stress is given.
  2. Derivational suffixes can be categorized into three types; that is stress-shifting, stress attracting, and stress preserving. Stress preserving suffixes does not change placement of stress in words. For example “–ful,” such as wonder changes to “wonderful.” moreover, stress attracting type gets primary stress. For example, “-ee,” such as, employ becomes “employ’ee.” Lastly, stress shifting type makes the stress to shift. For example “-ive,” such as reflex become “re’flexive” (Pennington 1996).
  1. Rhythm

Rhythm, in speech is defined as an effect that involves isochronous recurrence of some form of speech unit. Rhythm is also the regular recurrence in a speech of the stressed syllables (Celce-Murcia, Brinton, Griner. 2010). Yavas (2006) argued that the perception of various forms of rhythm as majorly to do with the syllable structure differences, type of stress and the vowel reduction. According to Couper (2006, p.47), Arabic and its different dialects are stress-timed all. From the different articles and studies, there is a consensus amongst writers and researchers that the listeners of Arabic make use of the rhythm of speech in distinguishing Arabic speakers from North Africa and the ones living in Middle East. Numerous studies have been conducted on the rhythm of Arabic. Dauer (2005, p.544) observed that one of the significant findings is the vocalic intervals highness, in the dialects of the eastern Arabs like the Palestine, unlike the western dialects of the Arabs such as Tunisia.

In English language, with the alternation of unstressed and stressed syllables, is actually stress-timed. Derwing (2008) asserted that rhythm is very important in English basically because many instances of miscommunication are attributed to the failure of a person to interpret words that are familiar as they are uttered with a rhythm pattern that is unfamiliar. As discussed earlier, words of English may contain one or several syllables. These words has stressed syllables that are clearer, louder than the unstressed others. Hansen & Zampini (2008, p.352) believed that combining of the stressed and unstressed syllables will result in the rhythms that are found in the words of English. This combination also brings out the pitch, length and strength of syllables. Furthermore, English sentences, just like words also have rhythm. Halliday (1970) stated that if a person wants to get a good rhythm of the sentence, he or she should know how to join together the syllables into bigger units, in addition to the clear difference between unstressed and stressed syllables. 

  1. Intonation

Yates & Zielinski (2009) indicated that definition of intonation difficult. However, in general, intonation is the speech melody or the falling and rising of the pitch of voice in conversation, and its analysis should be in terms of pitch variation. Intonation can point out different utterances types, such as questions, statement, attitudes commands, and the speaker’s emotions. Swan and smith (2001) indicted that English and Arabic have intonation patterns that are closely similar, especially in the contour and meaning. Ashby (2005) summarized the stress of Arabic in the following way:

  1. Falling intonation, in Arabic is used at the end of the declarative statements and in commands. In declarative statements is when it is on amid pitch, the voice starts, slightly rises on the syllable lastly stressed, and drop at the end to a low pitch as in. in command is when it is in the “Wh- questions.” That is the voice is high in the syllables stressed and quickly falls to mid pitch as in for the remaining part of th.............

Type: Essay || Words: 3323 Rating || Excellent

Subscribe at $1 to view the full document.

Buy access at $1

We will write a custom sample essay on
Comparison of English and Arabic in Word, Stress, Intonation, and Rhythm and their Differences
specifically for you
for only $7.00/page