Suffixes and position of the accent: Summary
Of Germanic and (recent) French origin, and other recent borrrowings
From Greek and Latin through Norman French
Main accent on suffix (original main accent in basic word becomes secondary)
Accent before "link vowel"
Accent on second syllable before suffix
(endings for making new words)
-ly (etymologically, from "-like")
(grammatical endings which can also make nouns and adjectives)
**these could be analysed in other ways, but the result is the same.
*some curious and surprising exceptions!
bold and italic = primary accent of word with more than one accent
bold only = secondary accent, or only accent of word
Note that some suffixed words can undergo further suffixation; the last suffix added is the one which determines the accentuation of the resulting word, e.g., re.al, re.a.list, re.a.lis.tic
Note also that prefixes are usually neutral, except for some instances of contrast, e.g., "I have paid you once already to install it; don't expect me to pay you again to reinstall it! (non-contrastive pronunciation: re.install)"; "This report is not mere misinformation; it is a deliberate piece of disinformation! (non-contrastive pronunciation: mi.sin.for.ma.tion, di.sin.for.ma.tion)"; "misinformation is not the same thing as deliberate disinformation!"; "disinterested does not mean the same thing as uninterested! (un.in.te.res.ted, di.sin.te.res.ted)".
NOUN VS. VERB (OR ADJECTIVE)
Forty or so common two-syllable words like "INsult/inSULT" or "CONtent/conTENT" are understood as nouns when the accent falls on the first syllable, and as verbs (or adjectives) when it falls on the second. There are hundreds of other two-syllable words that have nothing to do with this rule, e.g., TRANsfer, or deMAND, both of which can be nouns or verbs, and yet are always pronounced as indicated.
ferment* fragment* incline
increase incite/insight infix
interchange / interchange
second segment* subject survey suspect torment* transfer transplant
[*see other [ent] words below]
Note that DEsert (noun) and deSSERT (noun) are unrelated. ATtribute (noun) / attRIbute (verb), ENvelope (noun) / enVElope (verb), INvalid (noun) and inVAlid (adjective) are among the few three-syllable words that behave in this way.
Other words of more than two syllables may show similar variation: while the primary lexical stress stays put, in the pronunciation of the verb, secondary stress reinforces the vowel of the final syllable, i.e. for nouns, the «e» in «-ment» is pronounced like the «a» in «sofa» , but like the «ê» in «être» for verbs (Bold-face = primary stress, underlining = secondary stress):
complement compliment document implement increment regiment supplement
Many similar words are only used as nouns:
decrement instrument ornament sacrament
The vowel produced with the secondary accent (as with verbs) is maintained in other derivations of these words [cf. stress on «fused suffixes»]:
compleMENtary compliMENtary docuMENtary implemenTAtion increMENtal ornaMENtal regiMENtary suppleMENtary
NOUN (OR ADJECTIVE) VS. VERB
Note the vowels in the following latinate words:
. These can be either nouns (sometimes adjectives) or verbs. While the position of the accent does not change, the last vowel is pronounced like the "a" in "above" for a noun (or adjective), or "ay" (like the "a" in "ate") for a verb. (E.g.: advocate = verb, advocate = noun.) This is not exceptionless, e.g. "concentrate" can be a noun or a verb, and is pronounced with the same accentuation and vowels ("ay").
Some of these words are basically verbs, and require an affix to become nouns (or adjectives), e.g., deFAME >>> defaMAtion; GEnerate >>> unreGEnerate, generAtion, etc.; VIolate >>> inVIolate, vioLAtion, etc.; suBORdinate >>> insuBORdinate, subordiNAtion, etc. Others are nouns (or adjectives) only, such as: DElicate, ilLIterate, proTEctorate (with "schwa"), or verbs only, such as: eNUmerate, eXOnerate, ilLUminate, pronounced as expected (with "ay"). Note the exception: (in)SEnsate ("ay").
* cf.: PArent/paRENtal, NAture/NAtural
Note however photograph, photographer, photography.
-ed, -es (pl. and 3rd pers. sing. pres.), -ing (gerund) , -en (past. part.), -er (comparative),
-est (superlative), -ly (adv.)
"STRESS-BEARING" [note productive contemporary suffixes vs. non-productive historical ones]
"ACCENT ON THE FIRST SYLLABLE BEFORE THE SUFFIX" [note «linking vowels»]
*cf. «fused suffixes»
ACCENT ON THE SECOND SYLLABLE BEFORE THE SUFFIX
extravagance, (in)difference, democracy
***These could also be analyzed as "Accent before the linking vowel"
Notice that the «heavy syllable» may prevail: confederate, confederacy (normal pattern), vs. intestate, intestacy (heavy syllable prevails).
SO-CALLED «FUSED SUFFIXES» [note «heavy syllables»]
Note role of «heavy» syllable:
vs. «neutral» [-ive/ative]:
Note role of «underlying form»: adMIRE/ADmirable.
Note suffixation types: PArent/PArenting/paRENtal.