Links, Tips, Resources and Offers

Special Offers:
Intro Groups, Intro Rates:

   • Tuesday Tea Time Training 
   In honor of...
Better Business Communication Day
    Free Pronunciation Help

Stress, emphasis, intonation, melody: The Music of our Speech

Stress= that which is produced with higher pitch, louder volume, longer duration than the rest of the utterance.

Stress/emphasis within a word

Always put the EMphasis on the right SYLLable.  Not the emPHASis on the wrong syllABle.

Many people who are non-native speakers of American English do not pay attention to this very important aspect of neutralizing an accent. 

Not all languages have the same rules regarding stress.  Some languages will have differences in meaning depending upon the difference in pitch or other melodic features. Except for a few exceptions, American English meaning does not differ according to syllable stress patterns.

But we DO have an expectation that a given word will be produced with the same syllable stress each time we hear it. When we don’t hear it the way we expect it, we might find it ‘jarring.’ 

While we can usually manage with one or two differences in a short sentence or so, it becomes increasingly difficult for Americans to manage to understand a conversation or flow of sentences in which many of these differences are produced.  THIS IS OFTEN MORE DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND THAN DIFFERENCES IN CONSONANTS AND VOWELS

How can one learn the proper stress patterns of multi syllable words? 

One of the ways you can learn is to refer to an American English dictionary when you have a word you are unsure of.  To limit the amount of references you need to attempt, pick about ten or twenty multisyllabic words that you use at work or socially, and learn the proper stress for the syllables in that word. 

Begin to listen to the words spoken by good speech models, especially most newscasters and anchor people.

Accent & Speech Solutions incorporates  more formal and intensive instruction regarding the various patterns of syllable stress as part of its curriculum.

Sentence stress

Melody and stress is also used in American English to distinguish thoughts.  When we have finished a complete thought, our voice pitch and volume go down at the end of sentence. 

For example, “I am going to the store to buy a new TV.”  “There is a sale on the model that I have been hoping to buy for a long time.”  “I might even buy the extended warranty, since the price is right.”

Sometimes, though, we will utter sentences that do not finish quite so quickly. In that case, we do not lower our pitch until the very end of our thought.  While we are still continuing our thought, we do not drop our voice, and may even we trail our voices upwards a bit. 

 For example..” I will get up early tomorrow (slight upwards)… go to the store after breakfasts (slight upwards)… and buy a lot of electronics (thought completed so voice goes down).  

Questions will be signified by a raised inflection.  However, usually questions that start with ‘wh’ will often go downward. 

Why is it important to know these differences in sentence intonation?

When conveying information as in a business presentation, the American listener will be unconsciously listening for these clues to mentally organize the information they are receiving.  They will know that the thought is completed or know that they have to listen for some more information to be conveyed. 

In give-and-take conversational communication, it is important to know how to inflect your sentences so that you and the other converser will know when to begin to speak. Otherwise, you might be interrupting or be perceived as not holding up your end of the conversation properly.

Practice this paragraph. How would your voice reflect the different thought groups.

(statement/complete thought) “We are going out on Saturday night.

(question) Would you like to join us?   

(“WH” question) Where should we go?     

 (incomplete thought/still speaking) First, let’s go to the movies…then to the movies

(completed though)…then we will have a nightcap at our house.”



  Special Offers at

• Tuesday Tea-Time Training

Afternoon group forming for 3-4 people of any language group: A great opportunity for accent reduction training at a great rate.   Call 516.791.4664 or email Accent & Speech Solutions for details. 

First come, first served. 

• Sunday Evening Values in Valley Stream

Evening group forming for 3-4 people of any language group: Another great opportunity for accent reduction training at a great rate.  


Sunday evening group forming for 3-4 people of the Asian language groups (Indian, Chinese, etc.) that will focus primarily on intonation (stress and melody of speech) and pronunciation of sounds typically at issue with speakers from these languages.

Call 516.791.4664 or email Accent & Speech Solutions for details.

First come, first served.

In honor of Better Business Communication Day - Jan. 22

• Free Pronunciation Help
Email me 8 words that you always have trouble pronouncing.  Include your phone number and I will not only help you learn the correct pronunciation, but I will help you understand why the words are giving you trouble. 

This offer invites both native and non-native speakers of American English to contact me.   Call 516.791.4664 or
email Accent & Speech Solutions for details.

Better Business Communication:
10 Ways to Improve your Non-Verbal Language Skills

January 28, 2008 is Better Business Communication Day.  As the sponsor of this event, the Corporate Speech Pathology Network (CORSPAN) is encouraging business professionals to focus on improving their non-verbal language skills in the workplace.  More than 40% of our message is communicated non-verbally, which is why you may want to consider using the following 10 tips as your self-assessment tool: *

1. Do you establish and maintain consistent eye-contact with your listener?
2. Do you provide non-verbal cues to speakers to signal your level of understanding?
3. Does your posture (seated as well as standing) convey a professional image?
4. Do you have any distracting non-verbal behaviors that negatively impact your listener?
5. When addressing a group, do you stand fixed behind a podium or do you move away from the podium to get closer to your audience?
6. Do you use gestures that enhance your verbal message by painting a picture?
7. Do you use facial expressions to communicate with your listener?
8. Do you reinforce important parts of your message by changing your vocal pitch?
9. Do you pause strategically to hold your listener’s attention?
10. Do you use movement and gestures while on the phone to infuse more energy into your communication.

If you find you have difficulty in answering some of these questions, please feel free to contact me for clarification and more information about enhancing your skills

*The list was developed by the Corporate Speech Pathology Network for Better Business Communication Day (1/26/08)

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