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Vocal stress

In linguistics, vocal stress is the accent or emphasis given to each syllable in a piece of writing, as determined by conventional pronunciation. The amount and importance of vocal stress varies in languages. In some languages, vocal stress can determine the meaning of a word.

For example, in English, the word record changes its meaning according to vocal stress:

record, the noun
record, the verb

Poetry in English depends upon vocal stress to establish the meter of the poem. The vocal stress is usually thought of as strong or weak. Some people distinguish a third, intermediate stress level.

Example: In the word reconsider, the stress pattern is 'recon'sider (intermediate - weak - strong - weak).