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Unit 39. I'm Quite Busy at the Moment.

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Falling and Rising Tones

Unit 39; Part A

In each speech unit (see Unit 32) there is one main movement of the voice, either up or down, starting on the last prominent word of the speech unit. Listen to this example:
39.1.jpg          // you'll arRIVE // at CENtral STAtion //
          when you get OFF the TRAIN //
          turn LEFT along the PLATform //
          at the END of the platform //
          there's an EScalator // go UP it //
          and you'll be in the MAIN SQUARE //
          there's a FOUNtain // in the SQUARE //
          and I'll be WAITing for you THERE //
These speech units have either a falling tone or a rising tone .

Unit 39; Part B

A falling tone or a rising tone can extend over just one word (which may be only one syllable) or over a number of non-prominent syllables at the end of a speech unit:
      
// NO //
// he WORKS in a SUpermarket //
// I've ALwavs wanted t   go there //         
// YES //
// is that a CHOColate MILKshake //
// do you LIKE living in paris //

Unit 39; Part C

Choosing a falling tone indicates that the information in the speech unit adds some 'news': it is information that the hearer is not expected to know already. Choosing a rising tone indicates that the information in the speech unit is 'not news': it is information that the speaker and hearer already share. Distinguishing 'news' from 'not news' in this way can help the hearer understand what is being said.
       A: See you on Saturday.
       B: // but, I'll be in LONdon
¹ // at the weekEND² //

¹ the fact that I'll be in London is 'news' to A
² the weekend is 'not news' - it is the time we are talking about (Saturday)

       A: I'm trying t get ft, so I've decided t go on a diet.
       B: // you CANT just eat LESS
¹ // you'll HAVE to do more EXercise² //
¹ 'eating less' has already been talked about (in 'go on a diet')
² В tells A that exercise is necessary, too

Unit 39; Part D

We can use a fall-rising tone instead of a rising tone to indicate that information is 'not news'. Compare these examples:
          A: Can you come over now?
          B: // I'm QUITE BUSy
// at the MOment //
or:      B: // I'm QUITE BUSy // at the MOment //

note.jpgNote: It usually doesn't matter whether you use a rising or fall-rising tone. However, in some contexts one tone or the other is more likely. For more details, see Unit 43B.

 



Exercises

flag.jpgListen to the sentences and underline the last prominent word (where the main movement of the voice begins). Then show whether the voice rises (put ) or falls () from there. (Note that each sentence is one speech unit.)
Key.1    Was she really? ↑
2    I suppose so. ↑
3    I've always lived around here. ↓
4    It's broken down again. ↓
5    Shall I have a go? ↑
6    You remember Pablo. ↑
7    I gave it to my son. ↓
8    Can we go now? ↓
9    One moment, please. ↑
10  There was dust all over the place. ↓

Example:
I'm quite tired again.
1    Was she really?
2    I suppose so.
3    I've always lived around here.
4    It's broken down again.
5    Shall I have a go?
6    You remember Pablo.
7    I gave it to my son.
8    Can we go now?
9    One moment, please.
10  There was dust all over the place.

Now say the phrases aloud in the same way.

flag.jpgListen and decide whether the speech units in the B parts have a rising tone (put , in the box) or a falling tone ().
Key.1 B: // We could go now ↓// as you're ready ↑//
2 B: // I heard him come in ↑// at about three ↓//
3 B: // I thought his suggestion ↑// was ridiculous ↓//
4 B: // I hate it ↓// when it's so crowded ↑//
5 B: // I wouldn't mind some orange juice ↓// if you've got any ↑//
6 B: // They said it would be delivered ↑// by yesterday ↓//
7 B: // I first saw them perform ↑// a couple of years ago ↓//
8 B: // well why don't you try ↓// if you think you're so strong ↑//

Example: A: Where on earth did you find that?
                B: //I came across it // in an antique shop //
1    A: What time shall we leave?
      B: // We could go now __// as you're ready __//
2    A: What time did David get back?
      B: // I heard him come in __// at about three __//
3    A: I'm not sure his plan would work very well.
      B: // I thought his suggestion __// was ridiculous __//
4    A: The hall was packed, wasn't it?
      B: // I hate it __// when it's so crowded __//
5    A: Do you want a drink?
      B: // I wouldn't mind some orange juice __// if you've got any __//
6    A: When did they tell you it would get here?
      B: // They said it would be delivered __// by yesterday __//
7    A: Have you heard Trio Gitano play before?
      B: // I first saw them perform __// a couple of years ago __//
8    A: I could move that easily.
      B: // well why don't you try __// if you think you're so strong __//

Now listen again. Press 'pause' before each B part and read it aloud. Then press 'play' again and compare your pronunciation with what follows.

Follow up: Read again the explanation in C opposite. Use it to decide why falling and rising tones are used in the B parts in exercise 2.

 


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