intonation and stress.

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English - Australia
The following setence of mine is supposed to speak generally about the reading abilities of a student. I'm not sure if i am using the words stress and intonation in the right context, could my example and the emphasis on punctuation and familiar phrases be examples of these? E.g.: does this sentence make sense!

. His understanding of sentence structure was illustrated with the occasional use of stress and intonation accompanying certain punctuation or familiar/repeated phrases (e.g.: “Sadako you are such a TURLE”).

Thanks for your help
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Stress is loudness. In normal English speech all polysyllabic words have one or more stresses, and monosyllabic words may be stressed too. These don't vary (hardly at all, anyway): they are in our (mental and printed) dictionaries. So for example, going back to the polysyllabic words I have just used: loudness, normal, English, polysyllabic, stresses, monosyllabic, vary, hardly, etc.

    In a normal sentence, the main nouns, verbs, and adjectives typically get a stress, even if they're monosyllables. (In that sentence I could also stress 'main', and/or unstress 'typically' and 'even'.) So, without even being emphatic, the sentence 'You are such a turle' would have stress on the final noun 'turle' (whatever that may be).

    Sometimes for emphasis we stress a normally unstressed syllable, e.g. to make clear that you mean an employer, not an employee. In your sentence, the capitals mean you are emphasizing more strongly an already stressed syllable.

    Intonation is pitch movement (rising, falling) and pitch level (high, medium, low). Certain kinds of phrase and sentence have definite pitch patterns. Unfortunately, as you are in Australia, I'm not sure how you speak. Most of us have a falling intonation on the final main syllable of a simple statement: 'You are a \fool.' Australians, as is well known, often have a rise here, as the rest of us do in yes-no questions: 'Are you really such a /fool?'

    Punctuation often crudely indicates intonation. Before a comma there is a falling-rising pattern, showing the sentence is incomplete, and before a full stop there is a fall. Commas and full stops sound different. I'll mark the intonations on that earlier sentence: Before a \/comma there is a falling-\/rising pattern, showing the sentence is incom\/plete, and before a full \/stop there is a \fall. (The other two fall-rises \/ are where I could have chosen to write a comma. Or I could not use that intonation, and run straight through on level pitch: and before a full stop there is a \fall.)

    So to sum up, stress is basically an integral part of individual words. Intonation shows the grammatical structure of sentences by the rises and falls. On top of this you can use extra loudness and different pitch levels to convey emotional information.


    Senior Member
    Just to add to entangledbank's comments, I think stress is loudness and length. I mean a stressed syllable (or, to be more specific, its vowel) tends to be louder and a bit longer as well.

    I almost forgot: I think it's higher in pitch too.
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