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Scienze e tecniche psicologiche a.a.2011-2012 SENTENCE STRESS.

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Presentation on theme: "Scienze e tecniche psicologiche a.a.2011-2012 SENTENCE STRESS."— Presentation transcript:

1 Scienze e tecniche psicologiche a.a.2011-2012 SENTENCE STRESS

2 Stress- vs. syllable- timed languages A syllable-timed language (like Italian) means that the words are pronounced in a more or less equal way for all syllables. These are the basic units of rhythm. Because each underlying rhythmical unit is of the same duration, linguists say that these languages are similar to the rapid fire of a machine-gun. la-la-la-la-la-la e.g. Vado a mangiare un gelato a casa Questa lezione mi sta annoiando.

3 stress- vs. syllable-timed 1 English = stress-timed language. A stress-timed language = the stressed syllables are at approximately regular intervals, and unstressed syllables shorten to fit the rhythm. Italian students  problems producing unstressed sounds English, so give them equal stress.

4 stress- vs syllable-timed 2 Many Italian students don't understand why English-speaking people quickly speak, or ‘swallow’, a number of words in a sentence. In Italian each syllable has equal importance, and therefore equal time is needed. In English more time is spent on specific stressed words while quickly gliding over the other, less important, words.

5 Stress and rhythm English does not depend on syllables but on stress patterns. For example the following pair of sentences You’re awfully late. You’re going to be* awfully late. would be said in more or less the same space of time *In fact the structural words ‘going to’ are often pronounced (and even written in song lyrics) ‘gonna’ - similiarly ‘want to’ → wanna

6 Different length – same speaking time i) The beautiful mountain appeared transfixed in the distance. (14 syllables) ii) He can come on Sunday as long as he doesn't have to do any homework in the evening. (22 syllables) BOTH take about same time to speak. WHY? sentence ii has a greater number of less important words that are pronounced quickly. (He can/on/as long as he doesn’t have to/in the) SO DON’T worry about pronouncing every word clearly to be understood CONCENTRATE ON pronouncing the stressed words clearly.

7 Another example 1. Boys chase girls. 2. The boys chase girls. 3. The boys chase the girls. 4. The boys‘ll chase the girls. 5. The boys’ll be chasing the girls. We add syllables but each sentence lasts just about the same time

8 given vs. new information words with ‘new’ information are given more stress words with ‘given’ information are given less stress stressed words usually possesses highest information content Bolinger (1968) notes that speakers... 'depend on stress to highlight the most important and informative idea in the sentence.

9 STRESSING THE MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION. They’re GOING. They’re going to LONDON. They’re going to London on HOLIDAY.

10 Stressed vs unstressed words stressed words are usually CONTENT WORDS such as Nouns e.g. Judy psychology (most) principal verbs e.g. develop interest Adjectives e.g. social political Adverbs e.g. awfully already non-stressed words are usually FUNCTION WORDS such as Determiners e.g. the, a, some, a few Auxiliary verbs e.g. don't, am, can, were Prepositions e.g. before, next to, opposite Conjunctions e.g. but, while, as Pronouns e.g. they, she, us

11 GIVEN BEFORE NEW Normally the new information is found in the last word in the sentence (unless this contains given information) Look at the TIME! They often take a bus into TOWN. They enjoy her COOKING and Judy really is a MARVELLOUS cook.

12 Another example of old ‘unstressed’ information at end Speaker a) “It sounds like there was some excitement last night.” Speaker b) “Didn't you hear? There was a torNAdo in the area.” most important new information = tornado, ‘in the area’ = old/given information implicit in ‘there’ of a) example Dickerson (1989:20)

13 Emphatic or Contrastive Stress One reason to move the main stress from its normal final position is to assign an emphasis to a word that does not usually have much stress. i. It was BOring. (unmarked) ii. It was VEry boring. (emphatic) i. It was a key to FRIENDdship. (unmarked) ii. It WAS a key to friendship! (emphatic) iii. Eventually he became TOO disturbed. (emphatic) iv. In virtually EVery behaviour … (emphatic) v.They can come on FRIday. (unmarked) They CAN’T come on Friday. (emphatic)

14 Examples of Contrastive stress JANE spoke English yesterday. (…not John) Jane SPOKE English yesterday. (She did not write English...) Jane spoke ENGlish yesterday.(..not French…) Jane spoke English YESterday.(not two days ago …)

15 I’m not studying So the same sentence can take on different meanings depending on where the speaker chooses to place the primary stress: 1. "I'm not studying" = I am not, but another person is. 2. "I'm not studying" = I refuse to study. 3. "I'm not studying" = I'm not studying... I'm pondering!

16 Some words that are emphatic by nature indeed, utterly, absolute, tremendous, awfully, terribly, great, really, definitely, truly, literally, extremely, surely, completely, entirely, very, quite, too, pretty, especially, alone, only, own,

17 Some rules for improving your oral skills Don’t worry about pronouncing every word clearly Concentrate on pronouncing the stressed words clearly. Listen to how English speakers concentrate on the stressed words rather than giving importance to each syllable. You will begin to listen for (and use in speaking) stressed words. Words that you didn't understand are probably really not crucial for understanding the sense or making yourself understood. Stressed words are the key to speaking and understanding English well!

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