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Unit 49. On the Whole, It Went Very Well.

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Attitude Words and Phrases (1)

Unit 49; Part A

A number of words and phrases are commonly used to indicate our attitude to what we are going to say, what we have just said, or what another speaker said. Words and phrases like this are often in a separate speech unit (see Unit 32), either at the beginning or at the end of a sentence, and when this happens many are typically said with a particular tone. For example:
             A: Isn't there a bank anywhere in town?
             B: There isn't, // CUriously //. 
- 'curiously' at the end usually has a rising tone

             A: How did the exam go?
             B: // on the WHOLE ↓↑// it went very well.
- 'on the whole' at the beginning usually has a fall'rising tone
            
             Our maths teacher's not the happiest of people
             // to say the LEAST //.
- 'to say the least' at the end usually has a falling tone
 
Units 49 and 50 look at intonation in these attitude words and phrases.


note.jpgNote: Attitude words and phrases may be part of a longer speech unit and then intonation is less predictable. For example:
      // PEOple on the whole were very KIND //

Unit 49; Part B

Some attitude words and phrases are used to emphasise that what we are saying is true, and these typically have a falling tone both at the beginning and end of a sentence. Words and phrases like this include: believe 'me, 'surely, to put it 'mildly and to say the 'least (note that the main stressed syllable is marked with '):
           BeLIEVE ME , it's freezing out there.
           She wasn't too pleased with me, to put it MILDly .


The phrase mind you is used at the beginning of a sentence, typically with a falling tone, to emphasise an added piece of information:
           My granddad is always at the doctor's. MIND YOU , he smokes a huge amount.

Unit 49; Part C

The phrase The (only) thing is ... is used at the beginning of a sentence, typically with a rising or fall-rising tone to highlight a problem connected to what has just been said:
         You know you lent me that money? Well, the THING IS , I need some more.

The phrases The fact/point is ... indicate that what we are going to say is important, and The question/problem is ... label what we are going to say as an important question or problem. These phrases also typically have a rising or fall-rising tone:
          It might be a good car, but the FACT IS ↓↑, it's too expensive.
          I know you've applied for the job. The QUEStion IS , do you really want it?

Unit 49; Part D

Some words are used to show what viewpoint we are speaking from; that is, identifing what features of something we are talking about. Typically, these phrases have either a rising or fall-rising tone:
          PHYSically ↓↑, he's in quite good shape.
          I mean, LOGically , her answer was quite right.


Other examples are economically, outwardly, politically, statistically, superfcially, technically.

 



Exercises

flag.jpgListen to these conversations. Do the attitude words and phrases in bold have a falling tone (put in the box), rising tone () or fall-rising tone (↓↑)?
Key.These are the most likely tones for these attitude words and phrases in these positions, and are the ones given on the recording. However, others are possible.
1 presumably ↑; in fact ↓
2 naturally ↓; of course ↓
3 Apparently ↓↑; as it happens ↑
4 On reflection ↓↑; in fairness ↑; so to speak ↓

Example:  A: In my opinion ↓↑, the government was wrong to go to war. What do you think?
                 B: I disagree, actually .
1    A: These are new, presumably ___.
      B: I've had them a while. A few weeks, in fact ___.
2    A: There was a terrible mess in the kitchen when I got home. Jack was to blame, naturally ___.
      B: And of course ___ he said it wasn't his fault.
      A: That's right.
3    A: Apparently ___, Mike's getting married again.
      B: I already knew, as it happens ___.
4    A: On reflection ___,I think Julia's right. The company needs to invest in people more.
      B: She's got a point, in fairness ___. But she's also got to be ready to put her money where her mouth is, so to speak ___.
flag.jpgMatch A's questions and statements with B's responses to make five conversations.
Key.49.6.jpg
A: Why don't you get a new job?
A: How did the workers feel about the decision?   
A: What did your mother say when you left?
A: This wine tastes wonderful.
A: My dog ate my homework.
___ B: Yes. Mind you, it should at the price.
___ B: It was unpopular, to say the least.
___ B: You don't expect me to believe that, surely?
  1   B: Believe me, I would if I could.
___ B: She was disappointed, to put it mildly.

Now listen and check your answers. Press 'pause' before each B part and read it aloud. (Make sure you use a falling tone on the words and phrases in bold.) Then press 'play' again and compare your pronunciation with what follows. 
flag.jpgRepeat the words in the box after the recording. Use a fall-rising tone in each case.
Key.1 outwardly ↓↑
2 technically ↓↑
3 politically ↓↑   
4 superficially ↓↑

 
outardly    politically      statistically   superficially    technically
 

Now use the same words to complete the sentences, and then say the sentences aloud using a fall-rising tone on the words you have written.
Example:
Average temperatures have risen a little over the last hundred years,
              although    statistically  ↓↑ the increase is insignificant.
1    He was quite hurt by her comments, although ______________ he showed no sign of being upset.
2    She plays the violin with a lot of feeling, although ______________ she's not that good.
3    The country is rebuilding afer the war, but ______________ it's still unstable.
4    The job is quite interesting, although ______________ it looks repetitive.

Now listen and check your answers.

Follow up: Write sentences using some of the phrases in C opposite. Read these aloud, making sure you use a rising or fall-rising tone in the phrase. For example, 'I was going to contact Ann. The only thing is ↓↑,I don't have her email address.'

 
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