Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 13. Number3.  September 2022                                       Pp.54-71

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An Investigation of Common Stress Placement Errors in English Word Roots and their
Suffixed Derivatives by Arabic-Speaking EFL Learners

Rami A. Sa’di
Department of English, Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University
AlKharj 11942, Saudi Arabia
Corresponding Author:

 Talha A. Sharadgah
attam bin Abdulaziz University
AlKharj 11942, Saudi Arabia 

Maha S. Yaseen
Department of English, Al-Ahliyya Amman University, Jordan


 Received: 04/16/2022                   Accepted: 08/05/2022                  Published: 09/24/2022

Abstract  :
Suffixation influences lexical stress in one of three ways. A suffix attached to a word root/stem may take the stress itself, or it may cause it to move from where it was in the uninflected stem to another syllable, or it may keep stress as is. Stress misassignment is very common in the speech of Arabic-speaking English as a foreign language (EFL) learners. This study was conducted to investigate how Arabic-speaking EFL learners at Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University (PSAU) in Saudi Arabia assign lexical stress in word roots/stems and their suffixed derivatives to find out whether stress in suffixed words presented a greater challenge to the learners than stress in the stem; the study also aimed to examine whether errors in stress assignment were caused by first language(L1) interference. 112 students from PSAU were randomly chosen to pronounce 80 suffixed words as well as their roots/stems. The pronunciations were recorded, and the recordings were analyzed by the three researchers and three raters. The study concluded that suffixed words do not present a more significant stress assignment challenge than uninflected stems, the type of syllable attached to a word is not as important as the number of syllables, syllable weight and structure in a word, and that L1 influence may be one of the causes but not the only cause of lexical stress misassignment.
Keywords: Arabic-speaking English as a foreign language learner, English word roots, first language influence,
stress placement, suffixed derivatives

Cite as: Sa’di, R. A., Sharadgah, T. A., & Yaseen, M.S. (2022). An Investigation of Common Stress Placement Errors in English Word Roots and their Suffixed Derivatives by Arabic-Speaking EFL Learners. Arab World English Journal, 13 (3) 54-71.


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Received: 04/16/2022  
Accepted: 08/05/2022  
Published: 09/24/2022 

Dr. Rami Al-Sa’di is specialized in linguistics, with a special interest in phonetics and phonology. He also has vested interested in TEFL and educational technology. Recently, he has been conducting empirical lab research on the pronunciation of English as spoken by Arabic-speaking EFL learners, with focus being on stress placement as well as other aspects of articulatory phonetics.

Dr. Talha Shardgah is specialized in education and TEFL. He is also particularly interested in applied linguistics and in educational technology. He has recently been conducting research on acoustic and articulatory phonetics.

Dr. Maha Yaseen is specialized in linguistics, with a particular interest in phonetics and phonology as well as in syntax. She is currently conducting research in educational technology and in various types of functional code-switching in conjunction with colleagues in other universities.