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Unit 48. You Couldn't Carry It Upstairs for Me?

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Requests and Reservation

Unit 48; Part A

When we want to get someone to do something for us, we often express this in a polite way by using a fall-rising tone:
         I need to get to the airport by six. Don't suppose you can give me a LIFT ↓↑?
         You couldn't carry it upSTAIRS for me ↓↑?
         I suppose I could come over on Saturday, but Sunday would be EAsier↓↑

         ( = asking someone to change their plans)

Notice, however, that if we offer to do something for someone, it often sounds more sincere -that is, as a more genuine offer of help - if we use a falling rather that a rising or fall-rising tone
(see also Unit 43C):
         Do you want a HAND?      can sound more genuine than:
         Do you want a HAND ?      or: Do you want a HAND ↓↑?

Unit 48; Part B

We commonly use a fall-rising tone when we want to indicate our reservation about something. For example, we may not completely agree with something, or we know that what we are saying is only partly correct, or we may not be sure that what we are saying will be accepted:
          A: Do you like her paintings?
          B: YES . ( = I do)
but:    B: YES ↓↑. ( = I'm not sure, or I like some of them)

          A: Is it an interesting town?
          B: The OLD parts are ↓↑.
(= other parts aren't)

          A: You lost again, I hear.
          B: I did my BEST ↓↑.
(= you obviously expected more)

We also use a fall-rising tone when we talk about a cancelled arrangement:

         A: Are you going to the conference next week?
         B: Well, I was PLANning to go ↓↑, but I've got too much WORK .

Unit 48; Part C

In negative sentences, there is sometimes a difference in meaning when we use a falling tone and a fall-rising tone (see also Unit 43B). Compare:
         A: It's a pity Ann was ill and missed the party.
         B: She didn't miss the party hecause she was ILL ↓↑.
(= it was for another reason)
but:   A: I wonder why Ann missed the party.
         B: She missed it because she was ILL
(= this was the reason)

         A: I'll get some cheese while I'm out.
         B: I don't want ANy cheese ↓↑.
(= I want a particular kind)
but:   A: How much cheese shall l get?
         B: I don't want ANy cheese .
( = none at all)

 



Exercises

flag.jpgListen to these sentences and underline the syllable where the fall-rising tone starts.
Key.1 You couldn't do me a favour?
2 Do you want to borrow my umbrella?
3 I'd rather meet at ten, if you can make it.
4 Couldn't you come another day?
5 Will you be able to write a reference for me?
6 Can I open the door for you?
7 Can you get something for me from town while you're there?
Numbers 2 and 6 would probably sound more polite or sincere with a falling (rather than a fall-rising) tone, as they are offers


Example: I don't suppose you'd like to buy one?
1    You couldn't do me a favour?
2    Do you want to borrow my umbrella?
3    I'd rather meet at ten, if you can make it.
4    Couldn't you come another day?
5    Will you be able to write a reference for me?
6    Can I open the door for you?
7    Can you get something for me from town while you're there?

Now say the sentences aloud. Make sure you use a fall-rising tone, starting on the underlined syllable. Which two of the sentences would sound more polite or sincere with a falling tone?


flag.jpgMatch A's statements with B's responses, which express reservation. Then underline the syllable in B's responses where you think the fall-rising tone will start.
Key.38.6.jpg 
1    A: Mr Brown's an excellent dentist.       
2    A: I've put on a lot of weight recently.       
3    A: Dali's paintings were so strange.      
4    A: You're very good at chess, aren't you?       
5    A: Great news about Martha's new job.       
6    A: It's a pity you couldn't come skiing with us.        
___ B: His later ones were.
___ B: I wanted to come.
  1  B: He's very good with children.
___ B: It was certainly unexpected.
___ B: Well, I used to play well.
___ B: You still look fit, though.

Now listen and check your answers. Press 'pause' before each B part and read it aloud. Then press 'play' again and compare your pronunciation with what follows.
flag.jpgTick the more likely continuation in each case.
Key.1 ii      
2 ii     
3 ii     
4 i

Example: I didn't decide not to buy the hat because it was too exPENsive ↓↑...
              (i) I just didn't like the colour    (ii) I don't have much money at the moment.
1    I didn't buy the car because it was CHEAP ...
      (i) I'd have been happy to pay a lot more for it.    (ii) So I guessed it wouldn't be reliable.
2    She didn't fail the exam because she was LAzy ↓↑...
      (i) I was always telling her to work harder.    (ii) She was really ill on the day.
3    He won't play in ANy tournaments ↓↑...
      (i) He says he's too old.    (ii) He only plays where there's a lot of prize money.
4    I don't like ANyone borrowing my bike ...
      (i) It's really valuable.    (ii) I only lend it to my closest friends.

Now listen and check your answers. Then say the sentences aloud, including the correct continuation.

Follow up: Think of a country (not your own) and write three positive things about it. Now imagine that you have been asked to move to that country, but you are reluctant to go. How might you only partly agree with positive comments about the country to express your reservation? For example, 'People are very friendly there.' 'Well, in the VILLages they are ↓↑' Use a fall-rising tone in your response. (If possible, you could do this activity with another student.)

 
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