When a woman says she loves ирис, what should you bring her – a flower or a candy? Yet another reason to pay attention to word stress in Russian language.
The last post on word stress ended with a question “Why is word stress so important”. Stress is what creates ритм (rhythm) or мелодика (speech melody) of many literary works, particularly poetry. One of the pleasures of knowing Russian is being able to enjoy the works of its famous poets. And to do that, we need to speak with the proper stress.
But even if you are not into poetry, there are plenty of times when knowing which way stress falls will help avoid confusion. There are quite a few Russian words which change their meaning depending on where the stress is placed, such as :
Замок (castle) – замок (lock)
Атлас (atlas) – атлас (satin)
Засыпать (to fall asleep) – засыпать (to fill, to pour)
Полки (shelves) – полки (regiments)
Парить (to soar) – парить (to steam)
Хлопок (cotton ) – хлопок (a clap)
Пироги (pies) – пироги (pirogues)
Уже (already) – уже (narrower)
Стоящий (standing) – стоящий (worthwhile)
Писать (to write) – писать (to pee)
Ирис (iris) – ирис (butterscotch)
Козлы (he-goats) – козлы (saw horse)
Характерный (character as in character part) – характерный (characteristic of something)
On the other hand, there are words in which stress can be placed on two different syllables without any loss of meaning, including
Творог – творог both mean cottage cheese
Баржа – баржа both mean a barge
Торты – торты either way they are cakes or torts
Щавель – щавель mean sorrel
Колледж – колледж is an education of higher learning, a college.
Маркетинг – маркетинг is another borrowed word with double stress; both mean the same “marketing”
Звонит – звонит means “is calling”
Finally, there are words with double stress, meaning not one, but two vowels are stressed in a word at the same time. This is typical of compound nouns and words with certain prefixes, such as анти- , экс-, контр-, меж-, сверх- and some others:
Машиностроение (mechanical engineering industry)
Нефтепереработка (crude oil refining)
Стовосьмидесятый (one hundred eightieth)
Стометровый (one hundred meter) and all other compound words with ordinal numbers in them.
Finally, remember the rule that буква ё всегда ударная (ё is always stressed)? Well, in most literature and news, you will not see ё, but instead е will be used. Looks like even when it comes to words with ё in them, you will still need to memorize the proper stress.