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Unit 55. One of the Paintings He Left to His Sister.

Dividing Prepared Speech into Units (2)

Unit 55; Part A

In Unit 54, we saw that in prepared speech we usually place a speech unit boundary at the end of a clause. Speech unit boundaries also typically go before and after certain grammatical units within clauses. These are marked with // in the following example. Other speech unit boundaries are marked with //.
             Surprisingly// rates of heart disease// are rising again//.
             One of the most likely reasons// for this increase// is excessive eating//.
             As a result// levels of obesity// are going up// and people
             are taking less exercise//.
             In many parts of the country// this is becoming// a major// concern.

Unit 55; Part B

In particular, we tend to put speech unit boundaries -
  • 55.1.jpgbefore and afer adverbials which refer to a whole clause:
    Unusually for that time of year// there was deep snow.
    The president's son has been named// unoffcially// as his successor.
  • between the subject of a clause and the verb when the subject is long:
    The last ten years of her life// were spent in France. Some of the rarest birds in the world// can be found on the island.
  • before and after 'reduced clauses' that have a conjunction or adjective, but no verb:
    Wherever possible// the road will avoid existing settlements.
    ( = wherever it is possible)
    The two villages// although only a few miles apart// were very different.
    ( = although they are only a few miles apart)
  • after elements that are put at the front of a clause other than the subject (the usual first element of a clause). These include
    • (i) adverbial phrases giving information about time and place:
      The train line will be closed for two weeks. // In the meantime// a bus service will be operating .
      All over the world// people are concerned about climate change.
    • (ii) linking adverbs showing the connection between what you have said and what follows, such as: furthermore, in the same way (making an additional point); alternatively, even so, on the other hand (indicating contrasts); consequently, as a result, therefore (indicating consequences):
      There are clear limitations in the research. // Even so// the findings are valuable.
      Demand in Europe has declined. // Consequently// our profits have fallen.
    • (iii) words and phrases indicating the stage of what they are saying, such as: first(ly), secondly), finally, in conclusion, to conclude, in summary, to sum up:
      Secondly// waiting times need to be shortened.
      In summary// our report recommends relocating the factor overseas.
    • (iv) objects that are placed before the verb:
      One of the paintings// he left to his sister. // The other// he left to me.
      A number of the experiments// we conducted in Antarctica.

Unit 55; Part C

We also tend to put a speech unit boundary, usually with a pause, before information that we want listeners to focus particular attention on (see also Unit 60). For example:
            In today's talk, I want to introduce an important concept in language study ...
            // discourse analysis. 



flag.jpgListen and notice how attention is focused on the part in bold.

1    Only one group benefited from the change in the law ... landowners.
2    And the name for this process is electrolysis.
3    Today we're going to look at a rapidly changing area of the media ... electronic publishing.
4    I'd like you to note particularly the spelling of the word 'definitive'.

Read the sentences aloud and focus attention on the part in bold in the same way.
flag.jpgUse the information in Units 54 and 55 to prepare to read this text aloud. It is the first part of a conference talk on climate change. Think about where you will put speech unit boundaries and mark these with //. Read the text aloud and, if possible, record and listen to yourself. Make sure that words within speech units are run together smoothly.

Now listen to the talk as it is said on the recording.

Follow up: Listen to the talk in Exercise 2 again and take notes. A few days later, record yourself giving the talk from your notes. Listen to the recording and identify any places where you might have improved the division of your speech into units.

Unit 54      Unit 55     Unit 56 forward.jpg