Today's Practice: Listen to the following paragraph. Try to hear the "thought groups" by listening for the pauses. Notice the pitch rising on the stressed word and falling at the end of the thought group. Use the visuals in the PDF to help you.
Over the weekend, I went for a hike. It was a pretty cold day, so I had to wear a lot of warm clothes, including a hat and gloves. I was up in the mountains, though, and I stayed pretty warm while I was climbing. After a mile or 2, there was a lot of ice and snow on the trail. I stopped and pulled out my micro spikes from my backpack. These are metal spikes attached to a rubber strap that stretches over your boots. They make it so your boots grip into the ice and you don't slide. Without them, I wouldn't want to hike up in the snow and ice. With them, I can go a lot of cool places. Or maybe I should say cold places.
In a basic statement, we usually stress the last content word in a phrase by raising our pitch and lengthening the vowel. Word stress can change depending on what we are emphasizing and whether we are answering a question. Watch the video for details, then practice with these simple sentences.
Americans frequently simplify or reduce sounds in words in running speech. When pronouns beginning with “h” are in the middle and ends of phrases, the “h” is sometimes left off, as the pronouns are not stressed. For example, “Is he busy?” sounds more like “Izzy busy?” Try the following phrases, using a silent “h” on the words he, her and him.
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At the sentence level, we stress one word (or syllable of a word) for each thought group. The typical pattern is to stress the last content word (noun, verb, or adjective) in the thought group. We raise our pitch and lengthen the vowel for the stressed word or syllable.
Listen to these examples:
Notice that the overall pitch pattern for each thought group is to rise to the stressed word, then fall off at the end. When the last word of the thought group is stressed, it rises and falls on the single word, to indicate stress and the end of the thought. For example:
This standard stress pattern for a declarative sentence (rise in pitch to the most important word, then fall off) will vary when something needs extra emphasis. Examples might be to change from the standard meaning, to clarify, or for other special emphasis. Listen the sentences below. The words are the same, but the meaning changes when the stressed word changes.
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