Difference Between Stress and Intonation

Stress vs Intonation
 

If you are to speak a language clearly, paying attention to the difference between stress and intonation is essential. Stress and intonation are two terms that come in linguistics and play a vital role in communication as it allows us to get through to the others by being comprehensive. As we articulate syllables, the energy used or else the force that we used is considered stress. Intonation, on the other hand, refers to the manner in which we speak, to be more specific, it concentrates on the variation of pitch when speaking. This article attempts to provide a basic understanding of the two terms enabling the reader to grasp the differences between the two terms.

What is Stress?

Stress refers to the emphasis laid on specific syllables of a word or a specific word in a sentence. This highlights that there are two types as word stress and sentence stress. Word stress is when we pronounce a particular syllable with more emphasis or force in comparison to the other syllables. For example, let us take the word ‘garden’. As we pronounce it, the stress is on ‘gar’ , and the rest are unstressed. Sentence stress, on the other hand, refers to a particular word that is given prominence in comparison to the rest of the words. For example, when we say:

It was awesome.

The main stress is laid on the word ‘awesome‘. This highlights that the stress can be used to emphasize a particular fact in a sentence or else to bring out the meaning.

Difference Between Stress and Intonation

It was awesome.

What is Intonation?

As we express our thoughts, the way in which our voice changes as the pitch rises and falls allows the others to understand our stance of various things. This is referred to as intonation. Intonation consists of tone units and a pitch range. Tone units refer to the phrases that we divide as we speak. In each tone unit, there is a combination of rise and fall of the pitch. Pitch range, on the other hand, focuses specifically on the highs and lows of the pitch. This allows us to understand how a person feels about a certain thing through the manner in which he expresses it. For example, let us take a very ordinary occurrence.

You trust him.

You trust him.

With the change of the pitch, this can express different meanings such as disbelief, satisfaction, acknowledgement, etc. So, intonation assists in effective communication through the rise and fall of the voice. If people spoke in the same pitch without any changes , it would certainly be very difficult to grasp the exact meaning.

Intonation

You trust him.

What is the difference between Stress and Intonation?

• Stress refers to the emphasis laid on specific syllables or words of a sentence.

• Intonation refers to the variation of the pitch as an individual speaks.

• The difference between the two is that while stress pays particular attention to syllables and words, intonation can create an entire variation of the meaning through the usage of stress.

 

Images Courtesy: 

  1. Party by Nicor (CC BY-SA 2.0)
  2. Man by Halfhaggis (CC BY-SA 3.0)