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Style-Forming and Style-Modifying Factors

Before describing phonetic style-forming factors it is obviously necessary to try to explain what is meant by extralinguistic situation. It can be defined by three components, that is purpose, participants, setting. These components distinguish situation as the context within which interaction (communication) occurs. Thus a speech situation can be defined by the cooccurrence of two or more interlocutors related to each other in a particular way, having a particular aim of communicating about a particular topic in a particular setting.

Purpose can be defined as the motor which sets the chassis of setting and participants going, it is interlinked with the other two components in a very intricate way. The purpose directs the activities of the participants throughout a situation to complete a task. Such purposes can be viewed in terms of general activity types and in terms of the activity type plus specific subject matter. There appear to be a considerable number of quite general types of activities, for example: working, teaching, learning, conducting a meeting, chatting, playing a game, etc. Such activity types are socially recognized as units of interaction that are identifiable. It should be noted that activity type alone does not give an adequate account of the purpose in a situation. It only specifies the range of possible purposes that participants will orient toward in the activity but not which specific one will be involved. The notion of purpose requires the specification of contents at a more detailed level than that of activity type. This we shall call "subject matter" or "topic".

Another component of a situation is participants. Speech varies with participants in numerous ways. It is a marker of various characteristics of the individual speakers as well as of relationships between participants. Characteristics of individuals may be divided into those which appear to characterize the individual as an individual and those which characterize the individual as a member of a significant social grouping. The taking on of roles and role relations is commonly confounded with settings and purposes. When Dr. Smith, for instance, talks like a doctor and not like a father or someone's friend it is likely to be when he is in a surgery or a hospital and is inquiring about the health of a patient or discussing new drugs with a colleague. Such confounding may well be more true of occupational roles than of non-occupational roles such as strangers or friends, adults or older and younger children, etc.

Usually age of participants is also an important category for social interaction. Among other things age is associated with the role structure in the family and in social groups, with the assignment of authority and status, and with the attribution of different levels of competence. The speech behaviour of a person not only conveys information about his or her own age but also about the listener or the receiver of the verbal message. Thus, old people speak and are spoken to in a different way from young people. For instance, an elderly person usually speaks in a high-pitched voice, people generally use higher pitch-levels speaking to younger children.

There is another factor, which is included into the "participants" component of a speech situation. That is the sex of the speaker. Sex differences in pronunciation are much more numerous than differences in grammatical form. For instance, there is a consistent tendency for women to produce more standard or rhetorically correct pronunciation which is generally opposed to the omission of certain speech sounds. Girls and women pronounce the standard realization of the verb ending in -ing (reading, visiting, interesting) more frequently than boys and men who realize -in (readin, visitin, interestin) more often; female speakers use a more "polite" pattern of assertive intonation (Yes. Yes, I know.) while male speakers use a more deliberate pattern (Yes. Yes. I know.); women tend to use certain intonation patterns that men usually do not (notably "surprise" pattern of high fall-rises and others).

The last component we have to consider is called setting, or scene. It is defined by several features. The first of them is a physical orientation of participants. This is to some extent determined by the activity they are engaged in; thus in a lecture the speaker stands at some distance from and facing the addressees whereas in a private chat they are situated vis-à-vis each other. It is quite obvious now that speech over an intercom and speech in face-to-face communication is obviously phonologically distinguishable in a number of ways. Scenes may be arranged along dimensions: public – private, impersonal – personal, polite – casual, high-cultured – low-cultured, and many other value scales. In large part these diverse scales seem to be subsumed under one bipolar dimension of formal – informal. The kind of language appropriate to scenes on the formal or "high" end of the scale is then differentiated from that appropriate to those on the informal or "low" end. Such differentiation follows universal principles, so that “high” forms of language share certain properties, such as elaboration of syntax and lexicon, phonological precision and rhythmicality, whereas “low” forms share properties including ellipsis, repetition, speed and slurring. If this is so we may expect pronunciation features to be markers of the scene or at least of its position in the formal – informal dimension.


Task 6. This exercise is meant to develop your ability to reproduce the kind of intonation used in a lecture on a scien­tific subject. Follow the instructions given below:

1. Pay attention to the way intonation helps the lec­turer to establish a clear and logical progression of ideas as well as to direct the listeners' attention to the subject matter;

2. Take notice of the fact that the lecturer's speed of utterance is determined by his awareness that his listeners may be taking notes of what he is saying;

3. Mark the pausation, the stresses and tunes (it is not expected that each student will intone the sentence in the same way);

4. Read the lecture to your partner and record your reading;

5. Play the recording back for your teacher and fellow-students to detect your errors and make recommendations;

6. Identify and make as full list as possible of scientific style peculiarities as they are displayed in the text.


“You will all have seen from the handouts which you have in front of you that I propose to divide this course of lectures on the urban and architectural development of London into three main sections, and perhaps I could just point out, right at the beginning, that there will be a good deal of overlap between them. They are intended to stand as separate, self-contained units. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that anyone who tried to deal entirely separately with the past, the present, and the course of development in the future, would be misrepresenting the way in which urban growth takes place.

Now by way of introduction, I'd like to try and give some indication of how London itself originated, of how develop­mental trends were built into it, as it were, from the very outset; and of how these trends affected its growth. It start­ed, of course, not as one, but as two cities. The Romans built a bridge across the Thames at a point where the estu­ary was narrow enough to make this a practical proposi­tion, and the encampment associated with this bridge grew up on the north bank of the river. The principal fort of this encampment was on the site now occupied by the Tower. Further to the west, at a point where the river was fordable, an abbee — the Abbee of Westminster — was founded, and the towns grew up side by side — one centred on the Roman camp, and the other on the Abbee.

Now in my next lecture I hope to demonstrate in detail that this state of affairs — this double focus, as we might call it — was of crucial importance for the subsequent growth of London as a city."


Task 7. This exercise is meant to develop your ability to introduce teaching material in class with correct intonation. Follow the instructions given below:

1. Read the following extract silently to make sure that you understand each sentence.

2. Divide the text into paragraphs, if possible. Try to find the main idea in each paragraph. Split up the sentences into into­nation groups. Mark the stresses and tunes. Observe the difference in the duration of pauses between the paragraphs, sentences and in­tonation groups.

3. Make an oral presentation of this text in class as if you were a university lecturer. Let the teacher and fellow-students listen to you and decide whether your lecture con­forms to the required pattern. Introduce alterations in the text, if necessary, and use some hesitation phenomena to obtain a balance between formality and informality. It will enable you to establish a closer contact with the audience. Remember that the success of any kind of lecturing de­pends on your ability to do so.

4. Find texts dealing with various aspects of general linguistics, phonetics, grammar, lexicology or literature and prepare them for oral presentation in class as: (a) a university lecture; (b) a micro-lesson at school. Take into account the suggestions given above. Let the teach­er and members of the group act as your students or pupils.


"To the question: ‘What is language?’ many and varied answers have been given. Some linguists, fastening upon the phonetic aspect of speech, have defined language as being basically a series of sounds produced by certain hu­man organs and received by others. Another school replies that since the main characteristic of language is meaning­fulness, and since a transfer of meaning can take place without the medium of sound, as witnessed by semaphoric or gestural systems of communication, the phonetic aspect of language is secondary to the semantic feature. To the grammarian, language is primarily a series of grammatical forms, roots, and endings. To the literary specialist, lan­guage is a series of words so arranged as to produce a har­monious or logical effect. To the lexicographer, language is fundamentally a list of words with their separate deriva­tions, histories, and meanings. To the man in the street, language is what he uses, quite unconsciously, to commu­nicate with his fellow man. Obviously, these partial defini­tions are all correct. But precisely because they are ALL correct, the sum total of language amounts to something greater than any of them. Sounds in themselves do not constitute language; yet the spoken language consists of sounds. Meaningfulness may be achieved in a number of nonlinguistic ways, therefore meaningfulness alone does not constitute language; yet language, to be worthy of the name, must be meaningful. Grammatical forms and gram­matical categories, taken by themselves, axe dead things, as will be attested by many former students who ‘went through’ Latin and French in certain educational institu­tions; yet language is characterized by their presence to the extent that there is no language, however primitive, that does not possess some system of grammar. Spoken and written language consists of separate words; but un­less these words are arranged in certain sequences, they will not only fail to convey beauty or logic but will even fail to convey complete meaning. Lastly, a language that does not serve as a medium of communication is a traitor to its function."


Task 8. In the talk below the teacher is explaining to the student how to work with a tape-recorder. He/she is very reassuring and encouraging. Concentrate your attention on the intonation of the response. Make up conversational situations possible within the teacher-student interaction where you would sound reassuring and encourag­ing.


- Could you explain how this tape-recorder works, please?

- First turn it on.

- I see - the black switch turns it on.

- Wait then for it to warm up.

- Yes, how do you record?

- Press the button.

- Yes, and how do you listen?

- Push the green knob.

- And to make it louder?

- Turn this one here.

- Oh I see. Now let me try.


Task 9. Read the dialogue between the teacher and a student below. Mark the stresses and tunes. Act the dialogue in pairs. Make up conversational situations possible within the teacher-student interaction where you would sound categoric, reproachful and concern.


- Oh, there you are, Peter! At last!

- Sorry to be so late.

- Well, I've begun to have my doubts that you are coming, I must admit. What's been keeping you this time?

- Oh, it's been one of those days when everything seems to go wrong.

- I thought all your days were like that!

- No, honestly! Take this morning, for instance: alarm clock fails to go off; miss my train; leave my umbrella at home; lose my pocket money; unpleasantness all round.

- Yes, but that was this morning. And in any case, I don't suppose you were an hour late then, were you?

- All right. I don't exaggerate, either. It's less than an hour I'm late, actually.

- Thirty-five minutes, or thereabouts!



Unit 2

Date: 2016-04-22; view: 3388

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