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Classifications of Stress Accent in Chinese Language

For the stress accent in Chinese language, the most common two classifications are the word stress accent and sentence stress accent. If it is subdivided, one more classification can be added, that is, the phrase stress accent. First of all, those who come to learn Chinese in China need to know the so-called word stress accent is the syllable sounds more obvious than the others in a word and the sentence stress accent is the syllables more prominent than others in a sentence. In the same sense, the phrase stress accent is the syllable more outstanding in the phrase.

Since the history of studying the word stress accent and sentence stress accent is relatively long, the linguists also know them more profoundly. As a result, both kinds of stress accent will have more detailed classifications. Let’s take the former one as an example first, people can divide it into the fixed stress accent and free stress accent in accordance with whether the place appear in the multi-syllabic words is fixed or not. The word stress accent appears in the last syllable in French language while that in Polish appears the last but one syllable. The word stress accents in these languages are all fixed.

Some overseas people also get used to divide it into stress-accent and pitch-accent according to the realizing way of stress accent. For the sentence stress accent, those overseas students who come to study in China may fell confused because there are more classifications. The most frequently mentioned in some teaching books and popularity reading materials are rhythm stress accent, logic stress accent, grammar stress accent, sense-group stress accent and emphasis stress accent. Some researchers also proposed the stress accents such as contrast stress accent, regular stress accent and focus stress accent and even minor prominence.

However, from the perspective of Chinese language teaching, especially the speech sounds teaching, it is unnecessary to divide the sentence stress accent into too detailed classifications. The most important thing is to help the students to master the pattern of Chinese sentence stress accent on the basis of mastering the tones. The word stress accent, sentence stress accent and phrase stress accent are the classifications made according to the contexts and scopes that the stress accent appears. Besides, we can also classify the stress accent according to the degree of the stress, which, as a matter of fact, should be called grading. 

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