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There are many ways to emphasise a word, including changing the pitch, speaking the key word more slowly, stretching vowels and pronouncing the first syllable of a key word louder than other syllables.

Below is an example of a popular nursery rhyme with notes showing how changing the emphasis can affect the meaning and interpretation of the sentence;

MARY had a little lamb – it was Mary’s, no one else’s.
Mary HAD a little lamb – Mary had it once, but no more
Mary had A little lamb – only one, not two.
Mary had a LITTLE lamb – it was small, not big.
Mary had a little LAMB – it was a lamb, not a cat.

In a sentence, some words are stronger than others. The stress is put on the words that give the main information. It is important for listeners to be able to recognise what is important in a sentence so the correct information can be taken from it, as the above example shows. This is important during story telling and translation so that accuracy can be maintained and that the client’s message can be delivered to the audience.