Why do Persian speakers think their language has no stress?

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AML
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Why do Persian speakers think their language has no stress?

Postby AML » Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:37 pm

I'm confused about Persian stress, i.e., emphasis on specific syllables.

I have asked several well-educated, native Persian-speaking Iranians about which syllables are typically stressed, and I always get the same answer of "What are you talking about? Persian doesn't have stress". But when I listen to Persian, I feel like I clearly hear stress (often on the last syllable). Yet, like Japanese, Persian speakers seem to think their language is fairly flat.

Is it actually flat, and I'm just hallucinating the stress? :lol: What is going on here?
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Re: Why do Persian speakers think their language has no stress?

Postby Deinonysus » Fri Jul 26, 2019 2:43 pm

I don't know Persian but this sounds like the same situation as French. Here is a relevant passage from Wikipedia:

Non-phonemic stress

In some languages, the placement of stress can be determined by rules. It is thus not a phonemic property of the word, because it can always be predicted by applying the rules.

Languages in which position of the stress can usually be predicted by a simple rule are said to have fixed stress. For example, in Czech, Finnish, Icelandic and Hungarian, the stress almost always comes on the first syllable of a word. In Armenian the stress is on the last syllable of a word.[5] In Quechua, Esperanto, and Polish, the stress is almost always on the penult (second-last syllable). In Macedonian, it is on the antepenult (third-last syllable).

Other languages have stress placed on different syllables but in a predictable way, as in Classical Arabic and Latin, where stress is conditioned by the structure of particular syllables. They are said to have a regular stress rule.

Statements about the position of stress are sometimes affected by the fact that when a word is spoken in isolation, prosodic factors (see below) come into play, which do not apply when the word is spoken normally within a sentence.French words are sometimes said to be stressed on the final syllable, but that can be attributed to the prosodic stress that is placed on the last syllable (unless it is a schwa, when it is the second-last) of any string of words in that language. Thus, it is on the last syllable of a word analyzed in isolation. The situation is similar in Standard Chinese. French (some authors add Chinese[6]) can be considered to have no real lexical stress.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stress_(linguistics)
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Re: Why do Persian speakers think their language has no stress?

Postby Gordafarin2 » Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:01 pm

They certainly have contrastive stress in a few situations, at least.

The vocative -
pedár-e man - My father.
pédar, biaa! - Father, come here!

And informal speech where last two syllables of present perfect tense verbs run together.
ráftam - I went
raftám - I have gone (rafteh-am)

Wikipedia lays out a series of rules for the stress, so maybe that's where people are getting the idea that individual words 'don't have stress'.
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Re: Why do Persian speakers think their language has no stress?

Postby AML » Fri Jul 26, 2019 3:06 pm

Gordafarin2 wrote:They certainly have contrastive stress in a few situations, at least.

The vocative -
pedár-e man - My father.
pédar, biaa! - Father, come here!

And informal speech where last two syllables of present perfect tense verbs run together.
ráftam - I went
raftám - I have gone (rafteh-am)

Wikipedia lays out a series of rules for the stress, so maybe that's where people are getting the idea that individual words 'don't have stress'.


Thanks. So in any given sentence, it shouldn't be problematic to note where the stress goes in any multi-syllabic word, right?
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Re: Why do Persian speakers think their language has no stress?

Postby Gordafarin2 » Fri Jul 26, 2019 4:33 pm

AML wrote:
Gordafarin2 wrote:They certainly have contrastive stress in a few situations, at least.

The vocative -
pedár-e man - My father.
pédar, biaa! - Father, come here!

And informal speech where last two syllables of present perfect tense verbs run together.
ráftam - I went
raftám - I have gone (rafteh-am)

Wikipedia lays out a series of rules for the stress, so maybe that's where people are getting the idea that individual words 'don't have stress'.


Thanks. So in any given sentence, it shouldn't be problematic to note where the stress goes in any multi-syllabic word, right?

Sure, I don't see why not. I've never seen stress marked in a dictionary like it is in English though. And I wasn't taught about it, I've picked it up over time.

A random news headline I had open in another tab:
آیا نوشابه‌های حاوی قند باعث سرطان می‌شود؟
áayaa nushaabeh-háa-ye haaví-e qand baa'és-e saratáan míshavad?
(do sugary drinks cause cancer?)

On its own, nushaabeh is stressed on the e, but the plural marker -haa gets stressed.
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Re: Why do Persian speakers think their language has no stress?

Postby Saim » Fri Jul 26, 2019 7:24 pm

AML wrote:Yet, like Japanese, Persian speakers seem to think their language is fairly flat.

Is it actually flat, and I'm just hallucinating the stress? :lol: What is going on here?


What does being “flat” have to do with stress?

Doesn’t the whole thing about Japanese being “flat” come from foreigners overextending certain pitch accent patterns even for words that actually are flat?
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Re: Why do Persian speakers think their language has no stress?

Postby aokoye » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:11 pm

By "well educated" do you mean people who have studied Persian linguistics or people who are university educated but have no background in linguistics?
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Re: Why do Persian speakers think their language has no stress?

Postby overscore » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:52 pm

By the way does anybody know how stress works in my native tongue, Quebecois French??? Unlike the European variety we have stress with lax/tense phonation but I have no idea what the rules are for it.

Saim wrote:
AML wrote:Yet, like Japanese, Persian speakers seem to think their language is fairly flat.

Is it actually flat, and I'm just hallucinating the stress? :lol: What is going on here?


What does being “flat” have to do with stress?

Doesn’t the whole thing about Japanese being “flat” come from foreigners overextending certain pitch accent patterns even for words that actually are flat?


flat accent is not possible in standard japanese. see this:
https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http ... WU.png&f=1
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Re: Why do Persian speakers think their language has no stress?

Postby Saim » Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:09 pm

overscore wrote:
Saim wrote:
AML wrote:Yet, like Japanese, Persian speakers seem to think their language is fairly flat.

Is it actually flat, and I'm just hallucinating the stress? :lol: What is going on here?


What does being “flat” have to do with stress?

Doesn’t the whole thing about Japanese being “flat” come from foreigners overextending certain pitch accent patterns even for words that actually are flat?


flat accent is not possible in standard japanese. see this:
https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http ... WU.png&f=1


As far as I know Japanese people refer to one of the pitch accent patterns as 平板 (flat).
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Re: Why do Persian speakers think their language has no stress?

Postby Deinonysus » Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:21 pm

Saim wrote:
overscore wrote:
Saim wrote:
AML wrote:Yet, like Japanese, Persian speakers seem to think their language is fairly flat.

Is it actually flat, and I'm just hallucinating the stress? :lol: What is going on here?


What does being “flat” have to do with stress?

Doesn’t the whole thing about Japanese being “flat” come from foreigners overextending certain pitch accent patterns even for words that actually are flat?


flat accent is not possible in standard japanese. see this:
https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http ... WU.png&f=1


As far as I know Japanese people refer to one of the pitch accent patterns as 平板 (flat).

I think that "flat" here may refer to timing and volume rather than accent. Compared to a stress-timed language like English, where the pace of speech can change heavily based on the number of unstressed syllables, Japanese has a very even pace with each mora taking up around the same amount of time. And I don't believe that the accent comes with changes in volume, just pitch.

So by these two criteria, Japanese could sound "flat" to an English speaker because the morae are timed roughly evenly and there are no systematic patterns of louder or softer volume within words, even though there are other aspects such as pitch that are anything but flat.
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