Lesson 4 - The rhythm of English

The strong and weak syllables of English result in a rhythm that is similar to the rhythm of music. The strong (stressed) syllables are like the beat in music. Strong syllables are long. Weak syllables are usually short. Strong syllables usually have weak ones around them, but if two strong ones occur together, they are said just as slowly as if they did have weak ones around them.

Look at the following examples:
(a dot = short, a dash = long)



· — · — · —
result detect confuse
— · — · — ·
final science table
· — · · — · · — ·
computer in Sydney distribute
— · · — · · — · ·
absolute tentative chemistry
· — · · · — · · · — · ·
infanticide it's terrible impossible
— · · — — · — — —
Give me a break! Run along! Mind out
— — — —  
Get lost! Don't know!  

 

Marking rhythm in sentences

Find out the strong and weak beats in the following limerick. Then try to work out the rhythm (which is characteristic of a limerick) and practise reading it.



There was a young student called Billy
Who really was terribly silly
He ate a whole pig
And became far too big
And that was the end of poor Billy

 

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