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English word stress

asked 2017-01-14 07:50:22 -0400

inglesina gravatar image

updated 2017-01-24 15:03:46 -0400

ksteimel gravatar image

I'm a mother tongue English grandmother living in Italy. I have spoken to my 2 year old granddaughter (as has her father, my son) solely in English since her birth just over two years ago. She understands everything I say but prefers, of course, to speak in Italian but will translate when I ask her to. My question is: if HER English is MY English, why on earth does she automatically change the word stress? E.g. she'll say holiDAY rather than HOliday, shaDOW rather than SHAdow etc. I'm completely at a loss as to why she should do this as she should just be copying, shouldn't she? I'd love to know the reason if anyone can help. Thanks!

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answered 2017-01-24 15:00:47 -0400

charshey gravatar image

Good question! What you're seeing is "L1 interference". L1 stands for someone's first language--Italian in your granddaughter's case. When someone learns a second language (L2), their L1 will influence what they learn. Language learning is tricky, and our brains try to learn by using what they already know! English stress tends to fall on the first syllable, while Italian tends toward the penultimate (second to last) syllable. Your granddaughter's knowledge of Italian is influencing how she speaks English.

You can read more about this phenomenon here:

Hope this helps!

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Asked: 2017-01-14 07:50:22 -0400

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Last updated: Jan 14 '17