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25. Three principal functions of sentence stress in English

In a sentence or an intonation group some of the words are of greater importance than the others. This largely depends on the situation or context. Words which provide most of the information are brought out in speech by means of sentence-stress. Thus sentence stress is a special prominence given to one or more words according to their importance in a sentence.

1) The main function of SS is TO SINGLE OUT THE COMMUNICATIVE CENTRE of the sen-ce which introduces new information. The prominence is realized by variations of pitch, force, length and quality. The stressed words are pronounced more distinctly. The most prominent part of a sentence is the last stressed word which takes the nuclear tone. It indicates the nucleus of the communicative centre. The second in weight is the first stressed word which often has the highest pitch and is loud.

Nominal words are usually accented, and functional words are usually unstressed. Although functional words may be accented or stressed in certain structural types of sentences, in certain positions in a sentence they may be emphasized logically. Ex, It "is important.

2) THE DISTINCTIVE FUNCTION. Intonation distinguishes communicative types of the sen-ces, the speaker’s emotions and attitudes to the contains of the sen-ce, to the listener or to the topic of conversation.

3) Together with pitch accent SS also fulfills THE FUNCTION OF DIVIDING A SENTENCE INTO THEME AND RHEME.

Theme is the main subject of the sentence. Rheme is a part of a sentence where new information or very important information is given.

Ex. It was HE, who had stolen the bag.

Ex. It was he, who HAD STOLEN the bag (but not had returned it).

26. Sentence stress and a sense group

In a sentence or an intonation group some of the words are of greater importance than the others. This largely depends on the situation or context. Words which provide most of the information are brought out in speech by means of sentence-stress. Thus SENTENCE STRESS is a special prominence given to one or more words according to their importance in a sentence. In such a way the sen-ce is divided into the sense-groups.

A SENSE GROUP is the shortest possible unit of speech from the point of view of meaning, gram. structure and intonation.

In the process of speech our thoughts are shaped into sentences. A separate word may be used as a sentence but as a rule a sentence consists of more than one word.

Each sentence expresses a more or less complete idea which has a definite communicative aim. The aim of the utterance is made clear by intonation.

Often a sentence is made up of two or more parts, which are called sense-groups. The division of a sentence into sense-groups depends on the idea to be expressed.

Each sense-group contains a meaningful word or a number of words expressing in this particular situation a separate element of reality (object, action, or property, etc.). The sense-group cannot be subdivided into smaller units without destroying this particular sense.

Grammatically, a sense-group represents a separate word or a word-combination, or a clause, or a sentence, the words of which are used in their proper forms and joined together in accordance with the syntactic rules of the language.

Phonetically, a sense-group represents one of the intonation contours typical of the language.

The phonetic features of a sense-group are the following:

1. A PAUSE AT THE END OF THE SENSE-GROUP

The length of the pauses in non-final sense-groups varies according to the degree of independence, semantic importance and semantic connection of the adjacent sense-groups. The more independent and semantically important the sense-group is, the longer the pause after it.

2. A DEFINITE INTONATION CONTOUR falls on the semantic centre of the sense-group.

Final sense-groups are the most important ones: their intonation contours determine the communicative type of the whole sentence.

Non-final sense-groups may have different degrees of semantic completeness, finality and independence. The intonation contours are based on falling tones are used in sense-groups with a complete meaning, independent of the following sense-groups, while intonation contours based on rising tones signify incompleteness, non-finality and dependence on or closer connection with the following sense-groups.

The number of sense-groups in a sentence is variable, too, and is closely connected with the style of speech.

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