“French has syllable-timed prosody; English has a stress-timed prosody.”
English borrowed thousands of words from French, but did so by imposing a Germanic stress pattern on the original. Another way of saying the above sentence is this: Germanic is left-headed; French is right-headed”.
Germanic words stress the first syllable and follow it with an unstressed syllable; this is called a trochee. A three syllable word has to unstressed syllables and is called a dactyl. The sense that vowel is stressed combines loudness, length and pitch (usually deeper). Stress is applied to the nucleus of a syllable, a vowel, not the onset or coda.
New Norman food words were different from the OE animal names:
boeuf → “beef”, mouton → “mŭtŭn”, poulet “pŭlǐt”, both trochees; venaison → “venəsən” or “venısən”, a dactyl
One word has only one stress. If you hear two stresses, you hear two words: “a crow is a black bird, but a crow is not a blackbird”; “all soldiers PRESent and correct, preSENT arms!”
Borrowings for nouns and adjectives usually impose Germanic stress on first syllable: most 2-syllable nouns: PRESent, EXport, CHIna, TAble; most 2-syllable adjectives: PRESent, SLENder, CLEVer, HAPpy
But borrowings (from French) of some two-syllable verbs can import right-headed stress: preSENT, exPORT, deCIDE, beGIN
Borrowings of polysyllables from Greek can following the lending language: stress on penultimate syllable: geoGRAPHic; stress on ante-penultimate syllable: deMOcracy, phoTOgraphy
Borrowing of polysyllables from French of “communauté Européenne” → “European community” seems to give two stressed and two unstressed. The French requirement for equal syllables rejects a coda finishing with a consonant, so there may be and extra syllable in “Européenne”
F: err – rrho – pay – en – nuh ko – myew – no – tay.
E: yewr – up – ee- un kom – yew – nut -ee
F: exportez vos produits manufacturés via le service export de la Communauté Européenne
E: export your manufactured products via the European Community’s export office
The next example uses IPA for the English. Is there a /j/ sound before letter <u> in French?
F: je suis étudiante en littérature française à l’université de Bruxelles
E: aɪ æm ə ˈstjuːdənt ɒv frɛnʧ ˈlɪtərɪʧər æt ðə ˌjuːnɪˈvɜːsɪti ɒv ˈbrʌsəlz
Shakespeare is credited with up to 1700 neologisms. One class of his creations applies a bound morpheme as a suffix. Germanic suffixes such as -ness are unstressed.
The following bound suffixes from French seem to avoid right-headed stress:
-able was made it into two little unstressed syllables “ŭbŭl”, e.g. “likable”
What about <-ment>, <-tion>, <-ure>, <-ish>, <-al>?
–été has too much stress so we made société into “sos- ai-ŭt-ee”
Derivational morphology of English therefore usually manages to fit French borrowings into left-headed stress, but occasionally right-headed stress is preserved: “society”, “present arms”
The word “pup” is an interesting back-formation from “poupée”.
English speakers were exposed to Norman French, which was regarded in Paris as a regional dialect. The accent of William of Normandy may have been Picard. This is known colloquially and in the film, “Welcome to the Sticks” as ch’ti because /s/ is replaced by /ʃ/.
Wace was from Jersey and translated Geoffrey’s history for Norman French audience about their territories in England. A few lines from his “Roman de Brut” are reproduced below. (The final consonants need pronouncing for Middle French.)
‘Ky vot oyr e wot saver /
De rey en rey e de eir en eir /
ke cil furent e dunt vindrent /
ke engleterre primes tindrent’.