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32. Tempo and timbre of speech in English

By speech tempo we mean the relative speed of utterance which is measured by the rate of speaking and the number and duration of pauses in a sen-ce.

Every speaker has a norm which characterises his usual individual style. Some people speak more quickly, some more slowly; some people use more variations of tempo than others.

- THE RATE of speaking varies constantly. The speed of utterance becomes slower or faster according to the number of unstressed syllables between the stressed ones.

Differences of rate help the listener to differentiate the more important (slow rate) and the less important (fast rate) parts of the utterances.

Rate also performs emotional and attitudinal functions. It varies according to the emotional state of the speaker and the attitude conveyed. Fast rate may be associated with anger. Slower than normal rate may be associated with doubt, blame, accusation.

Variations of rate of speech and pausation are connected with dif. phonetic styles, shades of meaning and the structure of the intonation group. Rate is varied by the speaker in accordance with the situation in which he is involved. The speaker should always choose the proper rate suitable for the occasion, if he wants to be clearly understood.

- BY PAUSE we generally mean an act of stopping in the flow of speech. They break our speech or texts into paragraphs, sentences, int. groups. In English there are three main degrees of pauses: unit pause (one-unit) – used to separate int. groups, double (two-unit) – to sep. sen-ces, and treble (three-unit) – to sep. paragraphs.

TIMBRE is colouring of sound. It conveys certain shades of attitudinal or emotional meaning.

33. Rhythm of speech

Rhythm is generally measured in regular flow of speech in which stressed and unstressed syllables occur at definite intervals.

There are two kinds of speech rhythm: SYLLABLE-TIMED RHYTHM AND STRESS-TIMED RHYTHM. Every language in the world is spoken with one kind of rhythm or with the other. French, for .example, are syllable-timed language. All syllables are of equal value. They follow each other with fairly equal length and force. We hear smooth flow of syllables without a strong contrast of stress.

RHYTHM IN ENGLISH, Russian and some other stress-timed languages is based primarily on the alteration of strongly and weakly stressed syllables. Within each intonation group the stressed syllables occur at fairly equal intervals of time. This means that if there are any unstressed syllables between stressed ones, they have to be fitted in without delaying the regular beat

The greater number of unstressed syllables there is between the stressed ones the more weakly and rapidly they are pronounced. The unstressed vowels in this case have a noticeably different quality — they are shortened and weakened.

The English rhythmic structure is different from Russian— all the notional words are stressed, the form-words are fitted in between the stressed ones, when in Rus. almost all the words of an intonation group are stressed.

To acquire a good English speech rhythm one should arrange sen-ces into int. groups and then into rhythmic groups; weaken unstressed words and syllables.

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