accentuation

Status
Not open for further replies.

hamlet

Senior Member
Français (FR)
In the sentence "Are you still at it!?", which word do you accentuate and why? Do you rather accentuate "it" or "at"?
 
  • Musical Chairs

    Senior Member
    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    Probably "at" or "still."

    If you mean "are you still doing that?" I would say it's because both people know what the person being spoken to is doing. If you stress "still," it means "you've been working at it for a long time, and you aren't done?"
     

    Sprache

    Senior Member
    English/inglés
    Any one of those words could be emphasized. It just depends on the meaning of the sentence.

    Most commonly, the stress would fall either on still or at.
     

    hamlet

    Senior Member
    Français (FR)
    Is it possible to stress "it" or "at" interchangeably with no difference of meaning? Is the tendency to stress one word or another specific to a certain accent (do US speakers tend to accentuate "at" for instance?)
     

    mother earth

    Senior Member
    USA/English
    You can change the meaning of any sentence in english by changing the word you stress. It just depends on context.

    Are YOU still at it implies that that person is not the one you expect to be doing what they are doing.

    Are you STILL at is implies that the person has been at it for a long time, longer than you think they should, perhaps.

    Are you still AT it same as above; and both can imply impatience, annoyance, incredulity.

    Are you still at IT. Probably would'nt be phrased this way. More likely: Are you still doing THAT?

    Inflection is not easy to explain.
     

    srta chicken

    Senior Member
    US English
    My two cents worth:

    You could ask, "Are you still AT it" and not imply impatience. It could be asked as one of those questions whose answer is obvious, but you ask it anyway just to make conversation. The tone of your voice would convey your mood, and with this inflection it's possible to have a neutral, matter-of-fact tone.
     

    cycloneviv

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    Hmmm. Maybe it's just me, but accentuation on the word AT gives a different meaning to this sentence to me. It implies "Are you still 'at it'?" ie "Are you still having sex?"

    Accentuation on any other word (except "it", which I can't imagine every being accentuated in this phrase - as mother earth said, you would probably need to rephrase it) would just mean "Are you still doing that thing that you've been doing for a long time now?"
     

    Starbuck

    Senior Member
    USA/English
    Emphasizing one word over another changes the intention of the speaker's utterance.

    Are YOU still at it? (You, not Joe, for example)
    Are you STILL at it? (You haven't stopped doing it?)
    Are you still at IT? (not anything else).

    Another example may be clearer:

    JOHN speaks English. (not Frank)
    John SPEAKS English. (he doesn't read it or write it)
    John speaks ENGLISH. (not French, or Spanish, or any other language)

    Hope that helps.
    Starbuck :)
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Inflection and tone can change the meaing of even just one word.

    I had a roommate in college from Shanghai. His English was OK, but his favorite word was "Oh" and he could, by changing his inflection, get this word to convey almost any feeling, from surprise to sexual inuendo, to "I understand" or "I don't understand" and many others.

    So if he could do this with a single word, you can make a sentence mean very different things with different readings.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    In the sentence : "Let's look at you", which word would you accentuate?
    I'd accentuate whichever word was needing to be emphasised in the context in which it was spoken. For this particular example, just from the bare text, my immediate impression is that no particular word would be accentuated to any significant degree beyond the normal flow and intonation of the language, but I can imagine situations where almost any of the constituent words might be emphasised. Did you have a particular context? If so, it would useful to know it.
     

    hamlet

    Senior Member
    Français (FR)
    No there's no particular context. It's just I'm using to stress "look" and "you" and I saw a movie in which one of the characters says "let's takea look AT you" (stressing 'at'). I didn't understand why he did it so
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    When I started studying English, one of the first differences I noticed between the way British and American people speak is how they stress questions ending in a preposition and a pronoun. I'll try to give an example.

    BrE speaker: Do you want me to carry these bags FOR you? (you is pronounced very quickly, almost like ya)
    AmE speaker: Do you want me to carry these bags for YOU?

    It was just a general impression, and now that I'm able to understand spoken English a lot better, I know that doesn't reflect the way all BrE and AmE speakers speak.
     

    HistofEng

    Senior Member
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    My two cents worth:

    You could ask, "Are you still AT it" and not imply impatience. It could be asked as one of those questions whose answer is obvious, but you ask it anyway just to make conversation. The tone of your voice would convey your mood, and with this inflection it's possible to have a neutral, matter-of-fact tone.

    I agree with this! When I first read the sentence my initial impression was stress on "AT." I think the most common stressed words for this phrase are "STILL" and "AT," and actually if I am stressing "STILL" it's hard for me not to stress "AT" too.

    So I would say:

    Are you still AT it?....or

    Are you STILL AT it?
     

    hamlet

    Senior Member
    Français (FR)
    Which word would you accentuate in the following sentence "I wondered if you could take a look at it"?
    Would it sound like:
    "...if you could take a LOOK uh-dit"
    or
    "...if you could take a look AT it"
    (caps means emphasized)
     

    hamlet

    Senior Member
    Français (FR)
    same thing with "Are you ready for it?"
    would it be "Are you READY fur-it"
    or
    "Are you ready FOR it"


    I would say the first of your suggestions, which could be said "uh-dit" (as you suggested) or "a-dit".
    so you'd emphasize "LOOK" and not "at" as I heard a lot a times
     

    hamlet

    Senior Member
    Français (FR)
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Starbuck
    Are you still at IT? (not anything else).

    Hm...would you really use that? I tend to agree with mother earth that in that particular sentence "it" would most likely not be emphasized.
    That was an old one. What I meant by "IT" was the same thing as the first version I proposed in this later post:
    Which word would you accentuate in the following sentence "I wondered if you could take a look at it"?
    Would it sound like:
    "...if you could take a LOOK uh-dit"
    or
    "...if you could take a look AT it"
    (caps means emphasized)
    "it" was not to be emphasized it was just the only way I figured out to convey the idea of "LOOK at it" instead of "look AT it"...
     

    HistofEng

    Senior Member
    USA Eng, Haitian-Creole
    same thing with "Are you ready for it?"
    would it be "Are you READY fur-it"
    or
    "Are you ready FOR it"
    I emphasize "ready".




    so you'd emphasize "LOOK" and not "at" as I heard a lot a times
    Indeed, most of the time I would emphasize "LOOK" but in certain cases it may well be "at" that I emphasize.

    ...if I could only look AT it (instead of "Over it", "THROUGH it", "aROUND it", etc)

    It just depends on what you feel is important in the message and what you want to convey. Though it really depends on context, "LOOK" is usually the more meaningful part of the sentence. But, as I alluded to, many people would put a secondary stress on "at".

    ...if I could LOOK uhdit (primary stress on "LOOK")
    ...if I could LOOK adit (primary stress on "LOOK", secondary stress on "at")
     

    hamlet

    Senior Member
    Français (FR)
    At first I thought it was some kind of American accentuation because I hear it a lot of times when I watch movies made in the US (mainly).
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    In the sentence "Are you still at it!?", which word do you accentuate and why? Do you rather accentuate "it" or "at"?
    As a native, I can only refer again to Starbuck's and Mother Earth's original replies, posts #6 and #9 on Page 1. These really do excapsulate the point that there is no definitive answer, it depends entirely what you are trying to say and on what needs to be emphasised, i.e. what it is that you are actually questioning.

    This point has been re-iterated by HistOfEng just a few posts above. Would I be right in thinking that you are hesitant to accept this, and are still hoping that there is some other principle that can be applied?

    Note: I refer only to your original question, not the supplementary one, though I imagine the same general points apply.
     

    Blues Piano Man

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I agree with this! When I first read the sentence my initial impression was stress on "AT." I think the most common stressed words for this phrase are "STILL" and "AT," and actually if I am stressing "STILL" it's hard for me not to stress "AT" too.

    So I would say:

    Are you still AT it?....or

    Are you STILL AT it?
    "Still at it" is a common English phrase.

    I pretty much agree with HistofoEng. I give a little bit of stress, equally, to both "still" and "at."

    I might also equally stress the "you." As in...
    "Are you still at it?"

    Anything else sounds unusual to me. But there may be some context in which another stress pattern would sound all right.

    If this were not a standard phrase, you could stress various combinations of words and change the meaning. But this phrase, I think, has only one meaning:

    It expresses some degree of surprise that you are still doing whatever it is that you have been doing.

    Blues :)
     

    hamlet

    Senior Member
    Français (FR)
    Would I be right in thinking that you are hesitant to accept this, and are still hoping that there is some other principle that can be applied?
    Definitely because everytime I watch an American movie they emphasize the preposition before the last word (except for phrases like "look for someone"..). So I hear "Take a look AT it", "Are ya still AT it" etc a lot of times and, in my opinion, more often than in British films.
     

    mally pense

    Senior Member
    England, UK English
    Now that I think about this saying it in my head with a drawling American accent (stereotyping maybe!), I can hear what you mean, and I'm wondering if perhaps the British way of speaking is more inclined to vary the position of the emphasis based on the meaning, and the American way less so. Certainly what I'm hearing in my head isn't saying that the emphasis here is to stress AT rather than AWAY, which would tend to indicate that perhaps there is a different priinciple to be applied.
     
    Status
    Not open for further replies.
    < Previous | Next >
    Top