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Stress and Intonation Patterns

Even if a student can pronounce individual words correctly, he/she will still have problems
in speaking and being understood if there are problems in placing the right stress on the
right syllable in a word or on the right word/words in a sentence.
For example look at the words below.
1. photograph 2. photographer . photographic
PHO to Graph pho TO gra pher Pho to GRA phic
!his is an example of the primary stress on the word, where the emphasis is placed
when saying the word. "n the first word, #photograph$, the stress is on the first syllable. "n
the second word, #photographer$, the primary stress has shifted to the second syllable. "n
the last word, #photographic$, the primary stress is on the third syllable. %uppose a
student pronounces the third word with the stress on the second syllable, a listener will
possibly have difficulty understanding.
Furthermore in words such as these, or polysyllabic words &having three or more
syllables' there$s often a secondary stress as well. "n the first word, #photograph$, the
secondary stress is on the third syllable. "n the third word, #photographic$, the secondary
stress is on the first syllable. !here$s none in the second word, #photographer$.
E(ually, a student will have difficulties if he/she doesn$t place the correct stress on the
correct word in a sentence. )ook at the following sentences and notice the differences in
meaning as the stress changes.
1. *ary decided to study Spanish at %mith$s %chool in +anuary. &not French'
2. Mary decided to study %panish at %mith$s %chool in +anuary. &not someone else'
. *ary decided to study %panish at Smiths School in +anuary. &not another place'
,. *ary decided to study %panish at %mith$s %chool in January. &not another time'
E(ually important to the use of the proper stress is the use of the proper intonation &the
rise and fall in pitch of the voice in speech'. )ook at the following dialogue and read it out
loud to yourself as the directions indicate-
!im- &very surprised' .*ary, you$re going out tonight/0
*ary- &evasive' .1hy, yes. ", " thought " had mentioned it earlier.0
!im- &perplexed' .1here/0
*ary- &matter of factly' .!o the movies.0
!im- &curious' .2oing with anyone/0
*ary- &evasive' .+ust some old friends.0
!im- &a little upset' .1ho/0
*ary- &casually' .*ark and 3ngie.0
!im- &relieved' .4h.0
5otice how your voice rises and falls6 this is the intonation of the music of the language.
5ow read it again. "magine *ary is angry and !im being sarcastic throughout. 7o you
notice how the intonation changes from the first scenario to the second/
!hink about the individual sentences. 8ow did the intonation sound for sentences
beginning with #wh$ (uestions versus #yes9no$ (uestions/ 7id your voice rise or fall/ 8ow
did the stress on individual words change/ !hese are examples of intonation- the way we
communicate meaning with the pitch of our speaking. 1e do this to convey information,
meaning, emotion, feelings, attitudes and grammar &the two types of (uestions, #wh$ and
#yes and no$, for example'.
Common Intonation Patterns
1. :es/5o ;uestions, rising intonation at the end of the sentenced.
2. 1h9;uestions, falling intonation at the end of the sentence.
. !ag ;uestions eliciting agreement, falling intonation at the end of the sentence.
,. !ag ;uestions signaling uncertainty, rising intonation at the end.
1. 1here does the primary stress fall on the following words-
government, happy, enthusiastic, personal, personnel, radio, building, parade, lamp,
basement, ballgame, tremendous, boring, yellow, paper
2. )ook at the following sentences. 7ecide whether the intonation is rising or falling at
the end of the sentence. %upport your answers with a description of the meaning
being conveyed in the sentence.
- 1ho is he/
- "s she here/
- :ou$re going aren$t you/
- :ou aren$t going are you/
- 1hy did you do it/
- !hat$s so nice of you<
- !im said that/