pronunciation: emphatic stress in discourse

Dmessaoudi2

Member
Tamazight, Algeria
Please, could anyone tell me FIRST whether the following dialogue is well written (i.e. native-like) ? THEN, which are the words / phrases to single out in it if we want to focus on the actions ? So this part of my question relates to the "emphatic stress".

- I have finished writing the lesson, sir.

- No, you haven't (yet).

- Haven’t I? / I haven't ?

- Yes, you haven’t.

- Okay, I will finish it right now.
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    We're not supposed to proofread, but in fact your text is OK (except for the word yes which should be no!)

    The stresses will go thus:
    - I have finished writing the lesson, sir.
    - No, you haven't (yet).
    - Haven’t I? / I haven't ?
    - No, you haven’t.
    - Okay, I will finish it right now.
    For the stresses to sound even more natural, I have and I will would normally both be shortened.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    Emphatic stress is used to contribute to the meaning of a sentence. In order to advise where the stress would go in your example, we would have to know what you meant each sentence to convey. You would do this by adding descriptions after each sentence. You would also need to give some context/background to the situation in which this conversation arose. Without these, there are a variety of stresses possible, and we cannot go through each possible combination.

    - I have finished writing the exercise, sir.

    - No, you haven't (yet). <- how is this being said?

    - Haven’t I? / I haven't ?

    - Yes, No, you haven’t. -> then the explanation should be given...

    - Okay, I will finish it right now.
     

    Dmessaoudi2

    Member
    Tamazight, Algeria
    First, thank you mister K.B. for having corrected that mistake ("no" instead of "yes").
    As for the problem of stress, I know content words bear the main stress & the others no, but in English there is also what is called "emphatic stress" (contrastive stress) we put on any word to convey a special meaning. So I thought the dialogue would be as follows:

    - I have finished writing the lesson, sir.
    - No, you haven't (yet).
    - Haven’t I? / I haven't ?
    - No, you haven’t.
    - Okay, I will finish it right now.

    The emphatic stress being stronger than the ordinary main stress, I preferred highlighting only the first kind of stress for my students.
    Notice: In this dialogue, we are supposed to focus on actions using the emphatic stress rather than the ordinary main stress.

    Am I right in all of this ?
     

    Dmessaoudi2

    Member
    Tamazight, Algeria
    Here are some more explanations, mister PaulQ:

    - I have finished writing the lesson, sir. --> Ordinary speech.
    - No, you haven't (yet). --> confirming the action of "not having done"
    - Haven’t I? / I haven't ? --> seeking confirmation of the action of "having not done" / wondering ...
    - No, you haven’t. --> confirming the action of "not having done"
    - Okay, I will finish it right now. --> focus on the intention to finish the work immediately.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    All but the last line. It doesn't sound natural to me to emphasise will, now is more important.

    As for "No, you haven’t", there's no rule on this but I would be inclined to stress the word no because the teacher has already said this two lines earlier. But if you ask two actors to play out this scene, they will probably come to two different conclusions.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top