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"What is Prosody?
...in 168 seconds!"
Guide to English Prosody
|HEllo / goodBYE / intoNAtion|
All words in English with more than one syllable have a stressed syllable. If the word has many syllables there could even be a secondary stress for the word. This stress does not change even as prosody is applied.
The reason that stress is important and inflexible is that words are strongly identified and recognised via their basic stress pattern.
Some words even change meaning with different stress, compare the many nouns like REport, DEfect, INvalid with verbs & adjectives rePORT, deFECT, inVALid.
Why use pitch?
Pitch has a number of interesting considerations, firstly is the extra emphasis that words with increased pitch have. By raising the pitch the speaker tells the listener that it is more important.
Lowered pitch, the bottom row, is a key way to pass faster through less important words. By using a lower pitch we use less energy and can quickly get to the next word.
Mid pitch is used for 'basic' words within the sentence. It is not flat however, and includes small variations of pitch in order to keep the voice interesting.
How to produce pitch?
- RAISED PITCH:
- Imagine talking when your breath has just come in.
- Imagine trying to talk from the top of your chest.
- MODULATING MID PITCH:
- As you speak normally let your voice 'roll' with your breathing and move with the words' stressed syllables too.
- LOWERED PITCH:
- Imagine talking when your breath has just gone out.
- Imagine trying to talk from the top of your stomach.
A rising intonation can be used to be "inquisitive", or in 'up speak' to signal the end of your speaking turn.
A downwards intonation is the default intonation - not flat which would give a robotic effect. Falling intonation is also used for 'yes/no' questions.
Up Down intonation really reflects some doubt or reservation from the speaker. Something is not quite right and needs to be clarified. The speaker is holding back a little.
A DownUp intonation reflects interest from the speaker. It is a generally positive intonation.
This intonation can be used in positive or questioning tones - and reflects energy and focus on that word with the precise meaning coming from the surrounding words.
Raising your voice is a way to add extra emphasis - this could mean extra positivity or extra negativity from the speaker, all depending on the underlying message.
Making a word longer is another way to focus on a word to emphasize its importance in the sentence. It is particulary useful if you want to stress a word that is otherwise very short. Typically the word also has a raised pitch.
Long & Loud!
Combining loudness and length is a very common way to really force the listener to hear a specific word in your discourse.
General & Linking
Sound Row Basics
The Sound Row allows the possibility to see any significant pronunciation elements in the phrase. Things to note are:
- Words are potentially separated into 2 parts, Start and End.
- If separated each half will have a different colour.
- The different colours are to help see connected speech features if present.
- The Start will have the same colour as the previous word's End.
- The End will have the same colour as the next word's Start.
- The End part will also have a "-" to indicate a continuation of sound
Converting the text above to /s/ & /ʧ/ is to highlight the sound that is actually produced. Notice that 'nice' finishes with an /s/ sound so it becomes easier to read how it connects to the next word.
When a sound is actually introduced that is not present in the sounds of the written words a more colourful notation is used. Here the examples are from the insertion of /r/, /y/ or /w/ between two vowel sounds.
Prosody & Sound
(linking ignored here)
In addition to using normal phonetic notation, where there is a change to weak forms a more colourful notation is used - mainly because the weak forms are almost obligatory in order to achieve other prosodic features.
Pauses are a truly fundamental part of prosody and to being understood.
Pauses allow the separation of ideas, incorrect pausing can lead to confusion about what your idea was, and an absence pausing makes it impossible to start processing what the complete idea is.
Guide to Feedback
Good pitchYour pitch for the word was correct. That could mean it was either top, middle or bottom row - depending on the requirement.
Good pauseYou paused adequately in the correct place.
Good UP word intonationYour intonation of the word correctly rose as you said it.
Good DOWN word intonationYour intonation of the word correctly fell as you said it.
Good UP-DOWN word intonationYour intonation of the word correctly rose then fell as you said it.
Good UP-DOWN-UP word intonationYour intonation of the word correctly rose then fell then rose as you said it.
Good DOWN-UP word intonationYour intonation of the word correctly fell then rose as you said it.
Well shortenedYou correctly shortened the word by saying it faster, probably using weak forms.
Well lengthenedYou extended the word to add emphasis
Good extra volumeYou made the word louder as requested
Good weak formYou used the weak form pronunciation of the word correctly.
Good linkingYou linked the two words in a natural way.
Need to Improve Feedback
Need to modulate mid-pitch wordsRemember that mid-pitch words do not all use the same pitch, giving the impression that the section is flat. Instead the voice should fluctuate within the mid-pitch range to give interest and clarity to your words.
Pause neededA pause was requested here.
Need up pitchYou needed a higher pitch - do this by speaking more from the top of your chest/bottom of neck.
Need down pitchYou needed a lower pitch - do this by speaking more from the bottom of your chest/top of your stomach.
Need UP word intonationYou need to raise the intonation of the word as you say it. Try lifting your chin as you say the word.
Need DOWN word intonationYou need to lower the intonation of the word as you say it. Try lowering your chin as you say the word.
Need UP-DOWN word intonationYou need to raise and then lower the intonation of the word as you say it. Try lifting your chin and then lowering it as you say the word.
Need UP-DOWN-UP word intonationYou need to raise and then lower and then raise again the intonation of the word as you say it. Try lifting your chin, then lowering it and then raising it again as you say the word.
Need DOWN-UP word intonationYou need to lower and then raise the intonation of the word as you say it. Try lowering your chin and then raising it again as you say the word.
Needs to be shortThe word needed to be shortened. To do this we use 'weak forms' which need less articulation and allow you to say them faster.
Needs to be longThe word needed to be longer - do this by 'holding' and continuing the sound.
Needs to be loudThe word needed to be louder - do this by increasing the energy of the word as you say it.
No pause beforeYou paused at an incorrect place. Incorrect pausing can either change the focus or meaning of the sentence - or worse can impede understanding completely.
Pitch too highThe pitch you have used is too high - to lower your pitch try speaking that word closer to your stomach.
Pitch too lowThe pitch you have used is too low - to raise your pitch try speaking that word closer to your neck.
Need FLATTER word intonationYou have used too much intonation with this word. However in the modelled sentence the word had a flatter intonation.
Incorrect shorteningThe word modelled here was not shortened - possibly because the speaker wanted to give some focus to it in the sentence.
Incorrect lengtheningThe word modelled here was not lengthened - remember lengthening may emphasize a word and change the meaning, or focus, of a sentence.
Too loudThe word modelled here was not loud - remember increasing volume may emphasize a word and change the meaning, or focus, of a sentence.
Incorrect linkingThe word modelled here did not use linking - possibly because the speaker wanted to focus on it and not 'finish it' as soon as possible.
Incorrect IntonationThe intonation used with this word was not as modelled.
Used Up IntonationYou used an UP intonation instead of the intonation indicated.
Used Down IntonationYou used an DOWN intonation instead of the intonation indicated.
Used UpDown IntonationYou used an UpDown intonation instead of the intonation indicated.
Used DownUp IntonationYou used an DownUp intonation instead of the intonation indicated.
Used UpDownUp IntonationYou used an UpDownUp intonation instead of the intonation indicated.
Weak form neededA weak form was indicated but you must have used the full pronunciation form.
Link neededThe model indicated a link between two words which unfortunately you did not use.