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Unit 36. She's Got an Essay to Write.

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Non-prominence on final 'empty' content words

Unit 36; Part A

Some words at the end of a speech unit are non-prominent (see Unit 33) because they are 'empty' - that is, they don't carry new information.
 
Some words are empty because they refer to something or someone that has already been mentioned:

           Gail talked to me about Oscar as if I knew him well, although I've never MET her brother.
   
        ('her brother' = Oscar)
           He's always asking my advice on what flowers to plant, even though I don't know anything aBOUT gardening.
    
       ('gardening' = what flowers to plant)

or because they mean the same as something said before or implied in the previous context:

           A: There's a meeting tonight at Carl's.
           B: Hadn't I already TOLD you about that?
('that' refers to the meeting)

           I thought Hiroshi lived in the north of Tokyo, but in fact he lives on the OTHer side of the city.

          ('the north of Tokyo' implies 'one [the north] side of the city')

           A: Can you translate this for me?
           B: But you KNOW I don't speak French.
(asking for a translation implies that the speaker thinks I speak French)

Unit 36; Part C

Some idiomatic phrases typically have 'empty' words at the end:
            I found out that I didn't have to make a speech at the meeting after all. It was a REAL WEIGHT off my shoulders.
          
  (= I was pleased that I was no longer responsible)

            It was with her fourth novel that she really MADE a NAME for herself.
          
  (= became famous)

            A: How did you find out I was leaving?
            B: Let's just say a LITTLE BIRD told me.
          
  ( = I'm not going to tell you who told me)

            Being a builder is a hard job, even at the BEST of times.
           
(= even in the best conditions)

 



Exercises

flag.jpgListen and underline the one prominent word in each of the speech units.
36.2.jpgKey.Prominent words are underlined and the prominent syllables in these words are in capital letters.
1 // But you KNOW, can't drive//
2 // I'm not INterested in cricket//
3 // But you haven't even apPLIED for the job yet//
4 // there were HUNdreds of people waiting//

Example: He kept telling me to be careful with the bones// as if I'd never eaten fish before//.
1    A: Can you give me a lift?
      B: // But you know I can't drive//.
2    A: Do you think England will beat Australia?
      B: No idea.// I'm not interested in cricket//.
3    A: If I get the position I'm going to buy a new car.
      B: // But you haven't even applied for the job yet//.
4    I could only see the end of the queue, but in fact // there were hundreds of people waiting//.

Now say the speech units aloud. Make sure you make only the underlined word prominent and link words within the speech units smoothly together without pauses.
flag.jpgComplete the sentences using words and phrases from the box.
Key.The most likely answers are given.
1 to drink   
2 went off   
3 going  
4 in my soup  
5 from there   
6 she's holding   
7 from now   
8 place   
9 you're reading
10 in here

 
to drink     from now     from there     going     place    rang    she's holding    in here    in my soup     you're reading    went of
 

Example: I was just going to bed when the doorbell    rang  .
1    We didn't have any water __________.
2    Last night my car alarm __________.
3    How's your work __________?
4    Waiter! There's a fly. __________.
5    Get to the bus station and our house is a couple of minutes walk __________.
6    I wonder what's in that box __________.
7    The bridge should be finished a year __________.
8    Let's have the meeting at my __________.
9    What's that book __________?
10  What's the smell __________?

Now listen and check your answers. Then say the sentences aloud, making sure you make the underlined words prominent and the words you have written non-prominent. (Note: there will be other prominent words in the sentences, too.)
 
flag.jpgMatch A's statements and questions with B's responses to make short conversations.
Key.36.7.jpg

1    A: Still no word from Dan.       
2    A: Tim has raised some objections to your proposals. 
3    A: I'm looking after my two nephews this weekend.
4    A: He's working in Barcelona for the summer.        
5    A: These cakes are great. Can I have another one?  
6    A: Paula didn't get the promotion she'd been expecting.
___ B: I'm sure he'll have a whale of a time.
___ B: You'll really have your work cut out for you.
  1   B: Oh, well, I suppose no news is good news
___ B: I bet that wiped the smile off her face.
___ B: Sure, there's plenty more where that came from.
___ B: Trust him to throw a spanner  in the works.


Now listen and check your answers. Then listen again and underline the last prominent word in the B parts. Finally, say the B parts aloud, making sure that all the words after the underlined word are non-prominent.  

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Unit 35      Unit 36    Unit 37 forward.jpg



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