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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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Presentation Transcript
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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