Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fat balls

One of the joys - and mysteries - of the English language is the importance of STRESS, which very often carries important meaning. Think of pairs like:

a blackbird, ie, a species Turdus merula
a black bird, ie, a bird that happens to be black
a greenhouse, ie, a place where you grow plants
a green house, ie, a house which is painted green.
The difference in speech is all in the stress.
A blackbird is a DAH-dee, stress on the first syllable; a black bird is a dee-DAH, stress on the second syllable. Similarly stress the green in greenhouse, but stress the house in a green house. I guess you could argue that context will generally tell you which is meant, even if the speaker gets the stress wrong.
This posting was prompted by the fact that today I needed to go to my local garden centre to renew my supply of fat balls. I promise you, I resisted the temptation to get the stress wrong.
And now my Blue Tits are happy again. Careful with the stress in blue tits, by the way.

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