Hindi is a syllable timed language, as are most languages spoken in the Indian subcontinent. This means that syllables take up the same amount of time to say. As a result, Indian English tends to be more syllable timed.
American English, and most English dialects, are not syllable timed. American English is stress timed. In stress timed languages, a certain rhythm is maintained and not all syllables are the same length. Within words, some syllables are more prominent, or more stressed than others, and other syllables are unstressed.
Studies have found that people remember words by their stress patterns. When we speakers and our brains are trying to interpret what they are saying, our brain uses the stress patterns in order identify the words that are being said. That means that if you are using stress patterns to say words that a speaker isn't familiar with, it's going to make it much harder for you to be understood. It's possible they will not understand you at all, think you meant something else, or take a very long time to figure what you were trying to say. That means that getting stress patterns down correctly is very important in helping people to understand you.
Communication problems can happen when saying words likeand , which have similar sounds, but different stress patterns. This is why it’s important to understand and use stress patterns well. If you mistakenly pronounce with stress on the first syllable, it will sound more like , and if you pronounce with stress on the second syllable instead of the first, it will sound more like . In a sentence like "what did you think of the comedy?" or "what did you think of the committee?", if you are stressing a syllable that people aren't expecting to be the one receiving emphasis, you might cause some confusion.
Many speakers who didn't grow up speaking a stress-timed language or dialect don't realize how important it is, because often times speakers of syllable timed languages or dialects just place less importance on how words are stressed. Research has shown that in Hindi, word stress is less important, and that speakers of Indian English generally don't apply stress rules as rigidly as American English speakers. If someone emphasizes one syllable over an other it's not seen as big of a deal as it would be to an American English speaker's ears.
As mentioned above, syllables in stress-timed languages like American English can be stressed syllables or unstressed syllables. There are four areas which we modify when stressing, or unstressing, a syllable. These characteristics are length, volume, pitch, and vowel quality. Stressed syllables are longer, louder, have a higher pitch, and contain clear, distinct vowels. Unstressed syllables are shorter, quieter, have a lower pitch, and have vowels that are not as clear.
|Vowel Quality||Vowel that occurs in strong syllables|