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Unit 51. How Embarrassing!


Unit 51; Part A

When we want to give our opinion on something that has been said or done, we can do this with particular emphasis, often to express enthusiasm, using an adjective. Typically, this has a rise-falling tone:
          A: Dan got the job!  B: GREAT
          A: It's incredible to think that it's over 100 years old. B: AMAzing
          A: Sounds really good , doesn't it? B: FanTAStic

However, when adjectives like this have a low falling tone, they can be used in a sarcastic way. A positive word is used, but in fact expresses lack of enthusiasm, disappointment, or criticism:
51.1.jpg         A: The fight's been cancelled.
         B: GREAT

         A: The computer's crashed again.
         B: WONderful

We can also use an adjective with a rise-falling tone to express surprise at what has been said:
        A: Jack's just bought a new car. It's pink.
        B: PINK

        A: This cheese is frozen.
        B: FROzen

Unit 51; Part B

Adjectives like this can also be used with a rise-falling tone as part of longer phrases, ofen emphasised with adverbs such as absolutely, completely and totally:
           A: They're stupid to close the school.  B: ABsolutely riDICulous .
           A: Karl's given up his college course. B: He must be comPLEtely MAD .
     A: Were the instructions any good?  B: They were TOtally incompreHENsible .

Some are also used in exclamations after how:

           HOW emBARrassing !
           HOW COOL !
( = very good; informal)

Unit 51; Part C

Nouns and phrases without adjectives may also be used to express surprise, anger, etc., typically with a rise-falling tone. Sometimes these repeat a part of what was previously said:
            You're JOking
            NONsense !
            A: They've got diamonds in them.  B: DIAmonds !

Unit 51; Part D

Notice that the word really can have different meanings, depending on the tone used with it. For example, with a rise-falling tone it often expresses surprise, but with a rising tone it often expresses doubt:
                  A: It only cot me €10. В: REALly ! (= I'm surprised)
                                                    B: REALly
? (= I'm not sure I believe you)



flag.jpgListen and decide whether B uses a rise-falling tone or a low falling tone in each response. Underlineor . In which responses is B being enthusiastic?
Key.(Speaker A = Scotland)
1 ↓  
2 ↑↓ (enthusiastic)   
3 ↓   
4 ↓    
5 ↓    
6 ↑↓ (enthusiastic)   
7 ↑↓ (enthusiastic)

Example:   A: You had a good time, then. B: Superb! / enthusiastic
1    A: I can't find the tickets. B: Brilliant! /
2    A: The house had a well in the kitchen. B: Extraordinary! /
3    A: That's the third red bus I've seen today. B: Fascinating! /
4    A: Dan's coming over at six. B: Great! /
5    A: Kate's just phoned to say she'll be late. B: Marvellous! /
6    A: She speaks 14 languages. B: Remarkable! /
7    A: These beetles glow in the dark. B: Interesting! /

Now listen again. Press 'pause' before each B part and read it aloud, using the tone you have underlined. Then press 'play' again and compare your pronunciation with what follows.

flag.jpgChoose the most likely adjective from the box to complete each conversation.
Key.(Speaker A = Japan)
1 convenient    
2 horrified    
3 useless    
4 bizarre    
5 exhausting    
6 stunning

bizarre    convenient    dreadful    exhausting    horrifed    stunning    useless
Example: A: How are you feeling? B: Absolutely   dreadful !
1    A: There's a coffee shop right next door. B: How ______________!
2    A: Were you shocked by the news? B: Totally ______________!
3    A: This heater isn't much good. B: Completely ______________!
4    A: His paintings are weird, aren't they? B: Totally ______________!
5    A: How did you find the heat in Malaysia? B: Completely ______________!
6    A: The view from here is fantastic. B: Absolutely ______________!

Now listen and check your answers. Press 'pause' before each B part and read it aloud. Make sure you use a rise-falling tone on the words you have written.
flag.jpgYou will hear five statements. After each statement, press 'pause' and say one of the responses in the box. Make sure you use a rise-falling tone. When you press 'play' again you will hear the correct answer. (Note: Other responses than those on the recording are also possible.)
No way!      That's ridiculous!    A Porsche!     Tomorrow!      You're kidding!      You idiot!
Example:  You hear            The boss wants the report by tomorrow.
                 You respond       ToMORrow !

flag.jpgYou will hear ten statements. Respond to each statement using the word 'Really' Express surprise (with a rise-falling tone) or doubt (with a rising tone) as indicated.
Key.1 Karen says she wants to be a vet.
2 I thought the homework was easy.
3 The builders say they'll be fnished by tomorrow.
4 Lee's going to work in Nepal. 
5 Crossing the river shouldn't be a problem.
6 I passed my driving test.
7 Paul and Nickie are getting married.
8 My sister's planning to cycle across the country.
9 I plan to lose fve kilos in the next month.
10 There's a fox in the garden.

Example: You hear            Marcus has left his job.
                You respond       REAlly ! (surprise)

1    surprise   
2    doubt    
3 doubt   
4 surprise    
5 doubt   
6 surprise    
7 surprise   
8 doubt    
9 doubt
10 surprise

Now listen to both the statements and responses on the recording.

Follow up:Write three ridiculous demands your teacher or boss might make of you. Reply with a short response, repeating part of their sentence and using a rise-falling tone to show your surprise.

Unit 50      Unit 51     Unit 52 forward.jpg