Don t look at me in that tone of voice
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John Partridge, SECL German. Don’t look at me in that tone of voice. discourse accent and linguistic focusing. Some quotes. “There’s nothing like qua lity – and this is nothing like quality.” (anon., but unfortunately true)

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Don t look at me in that tone of voice

John Partridge, SECL German

Don’t look at me inthattone of voice

discourseaccent and linguisticfocusing


Some quotes
Some quotes

  • “There’s nothing like quality – and this is nothing like quality.” (anon., but unfortunately true)

  • “You really speak a most excellent accent without the slightest English” (George Mikes: How to be a Brit.


Stress accent 1
Stress & Accent 1

  • What is stress?

  • The varying degree of emphasis placed on particular syllables in a word: essentially invariable, except in word-play.

  • He didn’t frustrate the cat: he castrated it.

  • Cricket: ‘Catch it! vs ‘cat ‘shit

  • Mechanics: ‘Ratchet vs ‘rat ‘shit


Stress examples
Stress: examples

  • into’nation: undisputed stress pattern

  • BUT

  • ‘controversy

  • con’troversy

  • contro’versy

  • No agreed orthodoxy - source of bitter dispute

  • However - no meaning shift


Stress and accent 2
Stress and Accent 2

  • What is accent?

  • Emphasis placed on a particular word or expression used in an utterance. The word or expression retains its stress pattern.

  • What does it do?

  • It focuses attention on that particular part of the utterance


Ambiguities and meaning shift
Ambiguities and meaning shift

  • sleeping ‘partner vs ‘sleeping partner

  • Taliban ‘fighters – vs ‘Taliban fighters


Accent again
Accent again

  • How do we recognise it?

  • There is no particular and exclusive form, but we seem to perceive it intuitively:

  • Loudness

  • Pitch change

  • Pause


Information intonation and contrastive stress
Information, Intonation and Contrastive Stress

  • Concept of Head of Phrase: given material, no particularly obtrusive accentuation

  • New material may be markedly accented to focus on a particular element

  • Contrastive stress: contrast with what?

  • Not necessarily binary: me versus the rest


Misplaced accent
Misplaced accent?

  • ‘royal editor vs royal ‘editor

  • the ‘village pump vs the village ‘pump (German/American accentuation?)

  • It’s really the rich European ‘clubs which will benefit (Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, 5/10/06, reporting on the drain of talent from Brazilian football clubs)

  • She sits there … in her ‘matching suit

  • Life as a ‘city clerk


A classic of focusing and presupposition
A classic of focusing and presupposition

  • “Tony called Harriet a Socialist, and then she insulted him” (original template attributed to George Lakoff, instigating the Generative Semantics debate)

  • cf. “Tony called Harriet a Socialist, and then she insulted him”

  • The role of context in discourse focussing and grammatical process


Is focusing only done by accent
Is focusing only done by accent?

  • J.L. Austin (1962) How to do Things with Words identifies illocutionaryacts which make explicit and focus on the speaker’s intention (leads to the Performative hypothesis)

  • I promise to buy you a bunch of red ribbons


Accent and words 1
Accent and Words 1

  • English conveys much discourse meaning by tone of voice, but

  • It is often difficult to identify intonation in written text

  • Where did you get that hat ?

  • I do like to be beside the seaside

  • Spot the difference?


Accent and words 2
Accent and Words 2

  • German uses modal particles to convey much discourse meaning:

  • Following Moulton(1962) The particle doch is used to focus on the following word and indicate a yah-boo attitude to a previous speaker’s utterance.

  • Er ist doch gekommen.

  • Well, he came (he was a waste of space once he got here, but at least he was there)


Chickens and eggs 1
Chickens and Eggs 1

  • Claim by Bolinger, Chapman, Blakemore et al: accent is non-linguistic, and overlaid on a pre-existent sequence of words, i.e. paralinguistic.

  • Does para- = non-?

  • English makes extensive use of intonation to focus.

  • German appears to use modal particles to focus.

  • Does English lack words and German tone of voice?

  • What came first?


Chickens and eggs 2
Chickens and Eggs 2

  • I do like to be beside the seaside

  • ??? I do like to be beside the seaside

  • Relative clauses in English: Restrictive and non-restrictive

  • The deputy Prime Minister who expressed a passion for melons was on the skids.

  • Restrictive: Which one?

  • The deputy Prime Minister, who expressed a passion for melons, was on the skids. (Rising intonation before commas)

  • Non-restrictive: So what? He likes eggs on his suit too.


H hner und eier 1
Hühner und Eier 1

  • German modal particles

  • Er ist doch gekommen.

  • At least he came (which is more than anyone else did)

  • Er ist doch gekommen.

  • He really did come. (So there!)

  • Er ist doch gekommen.

  • He did come after all (despite the doubt he wouldn’t).

  • Er ist doch gekommen.

  • Well, he came. (He was a waste of space once he got here, but at least he was there.)

  • Acccentuation effects meaning change in particle


H hner und eier 2
Hühner und Eier 2

  • German relative clauses

  • No formal distinction between restrictive and non-restrictive

  • Mit dem Vizekanzler, der sich besonders für Melonen interessierte, ging es steil abwärts.

  • No change in intonation contour, commas obligatory.

  • No differentiation in meaning – has to be done with different determiner, possibly with accentuated gender/case prefix;

  • Mit demjenigen Vizekanzler, der sich besonders für Melonen interessierte, ging es steil abwärts.

  • Non-restrictive: No change in intonation contour (but maybe pauses), commas obligatory.


Chicken omelette
Chicken omelette

  • Both English and German use words and accent to focus, but to varying degrees. However, not complementary distribution

    Arguments

  • English emphatic do is unacceptable if not accented, therefore must be inserted into sentence so that it can be accented.

  • German particles change meaning when accented, must therefore be inserted with accent.

  • Relative clauses: English accentuation signifies different meaning. German must insert accentuated particle to make a distinction.


So what now
So what now?

  • Is accent accidental?

  • What triggers it?

  • Context – what is it?

  • Discourse history

  • Co-text – preceding dialogue and linguistic forms

  • Discourse intention of participants

  • “Mutual knowledge” of participants

  • “Shared knowledge” of participants


Use of accent example types
Use of accent: example types

  • Addition

  • Enumeration

  • Modality

  • Negation

  • VERUM-Fokus

  • Prepositions

  • Prefixes


Accent in action 1
Accent in Action 1

  • Addition:

    Also/ in addition, I’d like to stress that

    Außerdem möchte ich betonen

  • Enumeration

    Fourthly, ...

    Und viertens …


Accent in action 2
Accent in Action 2

  • Modality (somewhat variable, doesn’t always work):

    I must say that’s the giddy limit, old chap

    ?Ich muss sagen, das ist doch der Gipfel, mein Freund

    That can’t be right

    Das kann nicht stimmen

    I can promise you I’ll be there

    ?I can promise you I’ll be there


Accent in action 3
Accent in Action 3

  • Negation

  • That’s not right

    Das stimmt nicht

  • We don’t do that

    Das machen wir nicht


Accent in action 4
Accent in Action 4

  • VERUM-Fokus

  • Wedon’t do that

    Das machen wir nicht


Accent in action 5
Accent in Action 5

  • Prepositions

    He wasn’t lying on the bed: he was lying under the bed

    Er lag nicht auf dem Bett, er lag unter dem Bett.

  • Prefixes (wordplay)

    Als Franz-Josef umgebracht wurde, waren viele Leute aufgebracht.

    When Franz-Josef was killed, many people were outraged

    You thought this was going to be a popular lecture: we’ll, it’s turning out to be pretty unpopular


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