TELephone, telePHONic, teLEphony. PHOTograph, photoGRAphic,photOgraphy. biOLogy, bioLOGical.

The suffix changes the stress pattern of the rest of the word. Is English the only language with this system or are there other languages, with the same or a closely analogous system? French seems to not have this.

Not sure whether Indian English and Singlish and other versions/descendants of English that don't have the normal stress patterns are foreign languages, creoles, pidgins, or dialects of English. Out of my depth with respect to that topic.

  • 1
    This is the case in a great many languages. I’d say probably most languages that (a) use derivational suffixes and (b) do not have fixed stress on a root syllable. At least I can’t think of any such languages where the addition of various suffixes doesn’t change the stress. Most European languages do, at least (the exceptions being languages with fixed initial stress, such as Czech, Slovak, Icelandic, Faroese, most dialects of Irish and Scottish, Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian, and perhaps a few more). May 11, 2021 at 12:58
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - Albanian has fixed stress on root syllable (not fixed initial stress, but affected by the nature of the last syllable of the root), and when inflected, stress falls on the same syllable as in corresponding forms without overt inflection, even when the phonology would trigger a different stress position. See Stress Uniformity in Albanian: Morphological Arguments for Cyclicity.
    – Yellow Sky
    May 12, 2021 at 7:19
  • Stress is generally less marked in French than in other languages but nevertheless different between téléphone and téléphonique, photographe and photographie.
    – jlliagre
    May 13, 2021 at 0:44
  • @jlliagre I never noticed that. Do you have some evidence? May 13, 2021 at 1:30
  • @MatthewChristopherBartsh French is regularly stressed (albeit weakly) on the final syllable. Prior to the loss of final schwas, which is relatively recent, the rule was more complicated though
    – Tristan
    May 13, 2021 at 9:24

2 Answers 2


I think Ancient Greek and Russian are also examples of languages, where the addition of suffixes changes the way the original stem was stressed.


In fact this kind of stress system goes back to Latin, where stress falls to the penultimate or ante-penultimate syllable depending on the length of the last syllables. A syllable counts as long when either its vowel is long or when it is a closed syllable ending in a consonant.

  • To Latin, as well as to Greek and other Indo-European languages (with different rules, of course). And heavily adjusted within English itself, as well; -y derivations have antepaenultimate stress, whereas the ancestor of the suffix was stressed on the vowel that eventually became -y. May 11, 2021 at 14:45
  • You are not (I think) really claiming that in English the stress depends on vowel length. It is just that it sounds as though you are. ("This kind of stress system goes back to Latin").
    – fdb
    May 12, 2021 at 9:49
  • 1
    No, but for borrowed words from Latin there is also a borrowing of the stress (with the original stress patterns being obscured over time) May 12, 2021 at 12:22

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