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Types of utterance stress
UTTERANCE (SENTENCE) STRESS
In a sentence or in an intonation group some of the words are of greater importance than the others. This largely depends on the situation or context. Words, which provide most information are brought out in speech by means of utterance (sentence) stress.
The special prominence given to one or more words according to their relative importance in an utterance is called utterance stress. ( The term “sentence stress” is not quite precise, as sentence often implies a syntactical structure only).
The main function of the sentence stress is to single out the communicative center of the utterance, which introduces new information. The prominence is realized by the variations of pitch, force, length and quality. The most prominent part of a sentence is the last stressed syllable, which takes the nuclear tone. The second in weight is the first stressed word, which often has the highest pitch and is fairy loud.
Eg. The ˈdoctor ˈsays it’s ˈnot imˈportant.
The distribution of the stresses in a sentence depends on the semantic value of words and is closely connected with the lexical and grammatical structure of the sentence. In most languages there is natural tendency to subordinate form word to content (notional) words in stress. This is especially the case of English.
We differentiate 3 types of utterance stress.
1. Normal or syntactical (non-nuclear)
2. Logical (nuclear)
Normalutterance stress is used to arrange words into sentences or intonation groups phonetically. Together with grammatical and lexical means it expresses the general idea of the sentence and indicates its communicative center. The nuclear syllable is generally associated with the last content word of the intonation group.
Eg. We have ˈplenty of ˋtime.
The position of the last utterance stress determines the place of the nucleus of the communicative center. By shifting the position of the last stress we can change the place of the nucleus of the communicative center.
Eg. ˈNelly ˈspoke to him ˋyesterday.
ˈNelly ˈspoke to ˋhim yesterday.
ˋNelly ˈspoke to him ˈyesterday.
The type of utterance stress, which gives special prominence to a new element in a sentence or an intonation group is called logical stress (special, shifting, corrective). The logical stress is one of the most expressive means of oral speech.
Most human utterances express not only the speaker’s thoughts but also his feelings and attitudes to reality and to the contents of the sentence. Both normal and logical stresses can be unemphatic or emphatic (emotional). Emphatic stress increases the effort of expression. It may strengthen the stressed word making it still prominent. Emphatic stress manifests itself mainly on the High Fall or the Rise-Fall of the nuclear syllable.
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