Fri Nov 2 00:01:37 UTC 2001


> For me too, it depends on which verb.  Not only do I con-TRACT a
> disease (hopefully not anthrax)  or an obligation or an auxiliary
> verb, but my time also con-TRACTS, while I might CON-tract (not
> con-TRACT!) a marriage.  Curiously, the sources (like AHD4) simply
> give the two alternate patterns for stressing the verb while listing
> the various senses ('to enter into by contract', 'to acquire or
> incur', 'to shrink', 'to shorten by omitting sounds or letters',
> etc.) without attempting to figure out which stress pattern goes with
> which senses.  For me, the clearly denominal ones (contracting with
> someone) preserve the nominal (CON) stress pattern while the clearly
> verbal ones (contracting one's pupils or auxiliary verbs) have verbal
> (TRACT) stress.

If your time conTRACTS, then you are using the word as a verb.You're right,
though, about the incosistency here, if you CONtract a marriage, but people
hardly ever talk about getting married in this way any more, AFAIK, so the
inconsistency may not be as great as you think.
Anne G

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