Headword
Accent
Level
C, SG/HS
Language
English
Topic
Phonetics
Definition
Accent has two meanings:

1. Accent can refer to the pronunciation of a language. Since everyone pronounces language, we can say that everyone has an accent. It is usual to describe accent in terms of regional and social background, e.g. a working-class Edinburgh accent, or a middle-class Glaswegian accent. Some accents are difficult to locate regionally, for example English with an RP (Received Pronunciation) accent.

2. Accent can also refer to the extra prominence of one syllable in a word in relation to others. For example, in the pronunciation of apple, the first syllable is more prominent than the second. We say that the first syllable is accented, or carries the accent. We can mark the presence of accent by using the diacritic [È] before the accented syllable, e.g. Èapple, deÈcide. In English, some syllables sound more prominent than others because they are spoken on a different pitch (higher or lower), and because they tend to be louder (stressed).

Notes
1. Stress and accent usually coincide in English pronunciation, which means that accented syllables are usually louder syllables. However it is worth noting that in some accents of English, such as Highland Scottish English and the English spoken by Gaelic speakers, the accented syllable can be the quietest syllable.

2. Definition 2. See Roach, English Phonetics and Phonology.

Compare
Accents in different varieties of English and in foreign languages
Concept
Pronunciation
See also
Pitch, Received Pronunciation, Stress, Syllable