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Unit 58. The Headteacher, Mr Lee, will be Talking to Parents.

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Step-Downs - Adding Information and Ending Topics

Unit 58; Part A

Adding information
When we use a noun phrase to add information about the previous noun phrase (and both refer to the same person or thing), we often step down and say the second noun phrase with a relatively low pitch in its own speech unit. The step-down is in the first prominent word of this speech unit. In these examples, step-downs are marked with ⇓:
              The headTEAcher //Mr 
LEE will be talking to parents.
              The report is published // by the WHO // the 
WORLD HEALTH organisation .
              The reSEARCH team ↓↑//
SCIentists from the university of LEEDS ↓↑// will be spending six months in the Arctic.

We can also add information in a whole clause beginning with a step-down:

             A mySTErious arc of LIGHT //  KNOWN as the LYNX Arc // has been
             found to be the biggest star-forming region ever seen in space.


note.jpgNote: The noun phrases (the main information and the added information) have a falling tone if they are 'news' and a rising or fall-rising tone if they are 'not news'; that is, the speaker assumes the hearer already knows the information (see Unit 39).


Notice that the same tone is usually used in the first noun phrase and in the stepped-down speech unit. However, this is not always the case:

             The AusTRAlian author PEter THOMas
//
NOW based in New YORK ↓↑ is this year's Brook Prize winner. - here the speaker 'tells' hearers that she is talking about Peter Thomas, but 'reminds' them that Peter Thomas lives in New York - this is information she assumes hearers already know

Unit 58; Part B

Ending topics
Step-downs are also used, particularly in prepared speech, to show that we are ending a topic. Here is part of a conference talk given on the subject of education. Notice that step-downs are often followed by step-ups marking new topics
(see Unit 57).
58.1.jpg

 



Exercises

flag.jpgListen to these extracts from news broadcasts as many times as you need and:
( i ) put a ⇓ before the first prominent word with a step-down
( ii ) put either ( for falling tone ) or ↓↑ ( for fall-rising tone ) in the box for the tone starting on each word in bold.

Example: The city of Krakow , the former capital of Poland , has some of the best art collections in Europe.
1    Michael Watson ___, the reigning champion ___, has been knocked out of the French Open.
2    Whitedown Hill ___, above the Trant Valley ___, is to be the location of a new wind farm.
3    Two sisters from France ___, both in their seventies ___, have become the oldest people to swim the English Channel.
4    A black woodpecker ___, a rare visitor to Britain ___, has been spotted on the east coast.
5    The head of NATO in Europe ___, Major Peter Alvin ___, has warned that its military equipment is becoming seriously outdated.
flag.jpgChoose a noun phrase from the box to add to each of these news extracts and indicate its appropriate position with a line (/).
Key.1 Mr Abram IvANich, a FORmer COMMunist, has been elected president of Novistan.
2 The Nisota car factory in PERTH, emPLOYing over THREE thousand PEople, is to close next year.
3 A statue of Sir Frank WHittle, inVENtor of the JET engine, has been unveiled in his home town.
4 Over fifty thousand PEople, almost a TENth of the popuLAtion, are now thought to have been infected with influenza.
5 The city of St PEtersburg, PREviously LENingrad is encouraging people to use public transport.

 
employing over three thousand people     a former communist     previously Leningrad
almost a tenth of the population     one of the poorest in Asia     inventor of the jet engine
 

                                              one of the poorest in Asia                         
Example:
Large areas of the country / have been hit by drought.

1    Mr Abram Ivanich has been elected president of Novistan.

2    The Nisota car factory in Perth is to close next year.

3    A statue of Sir Frank Whittle has been unveiled in his home town.

4    Over fifty thousand people are now thought to have been infected with infuenza.

5    The city of St Petersburg is encouraging people to use public transport.

Now listen and check your answers. Then say the sentences aloud. Make sure you use a step-down at the beginning of the added information and the same tone (either falling or fall-rising ) in the added information and the previous noun phrase.
flag.jpgA tour guide in Prague is explaining to tourists what they can see on their trip down the Vltava River. Here is part of what she says. Listen and put ⇑ before a word with a step-up marking a new topic and a ⇓ before a word with a step-down ending a topic.
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