Suprasegmental features

Word stress



The importance of the right tone

Got the keys… 

My voice didn’t go up at the end… not a question!

TONICITY: Placing the accent in an utterance.


Tonic displacement in narrow focus (some of the information is old)

Deaccenting old information (repetitions or synonyms)

Bond | James Bond.

  • He can hear your voice, he knows your voice. 
  • He knows my voice…
  • Did you read any of the books I gave you?
  • Do you listen to anything I say?
  • You gave me books…


  • I could open the fridge from the bed, I could lie in bed and open the fridge.
  • I bet you can’t do that anymore.
  • I can’t do that anymore, no. I could, I could have a fridge put by the bed.
  • You could, yeah, you could have someone go to the fridge.

We’re letting you go.
But I didn’t ask to go

Where did you have on your honeymoon? Did you have a honeymoon or…


Agreeing and disagreeing

These are dangerous times.
These are dangerous times.



  • Is this like that time you tried to convince us you were a doctor?
  • I am a doctor!
  • That was you? I thought it was Jack!
  • No, that was Jack!
  • That’s ridiculous!
  • It was ridiculous


A design to get him out of the political scene and in prison. 

Sometimes you think… oh… he’s laughing at something funny ‘I did, but usually he’s laughing at something funny ‘he did

  • Hazel, who’s almost five, has seen it, and just absolutely loved it. And sort of wants to talk about it all the time now, and, yeah… it’s just really weird. 
  • It must be… your mother’s Mary Poppins!
  • No, but I don’t think… see… I just think she just thinks it’s normal, she’s like, well that’s what Sunny’s mummy does and this is what my mummy does, you know, it’s just sort of like quite conversational for her.

  • I work with Spiderman.
  • You work for Spiderman?
  • I work with Spiderman, not for Spiderman.





But then I met this guy. I wanna partner up with this guy. 

You can say allegedly what happened.                                        

Tonic displacement in broad focus (exceptions to the nuclear stress rule)

Announcements and events

Now’s time for mum and dad to come home. What if you’ve got a particularly swearly kid, whose mum, for the last 9 months, 12 months, whatever it is has said: “you wait until your dad gets home…””Hey, guess what, dad‘s coming home, lets make him a banner. 

That status quo is often… My phone‘s ringing… I’m sorry. 


That was a big event. When the sun‘s shining on it, there’s nothing more beautiful, really...

  • Campus life here has just changed so much from when I was here. 
  • And the train’s coming. 

Constructions with syntactic movement (wh-questions with verb at the end; direct object + verb)

What book are you reading at the moment?



  • So during my tears, during my grief, while I get rid of this heartache, I have work to do. 
  • And I remember thinking, it’s like, we’ve so much work to do here, why do you care about your career path. 

Idiomatic expressions

By all means…

For one thing…

In no time… 

                       Final vocatives are deaccented

  • It’s a miracle… How do you explain that, Mr. Atheist?
  • I like you, Kiki, thank you for…
  • As young leaders, Mr president, we want to do the businesses at home, and be the ones to own our own market. So how do you, Mr. President, plan on assisting us in…

Final adverbs and adverbial phrases.

Well, we’ll have a session this afternoon. 

  • But what if they go out of business tomorrow?

                   Tonic on the operator (verb to be)

How are you?

Returning a question

                                                                                                 How are you?

                                                                                                Good! How are you?

Deaccenting words without much meaning: thing, place (=home), stuff, people.

In my place.

Come to my place.

“AI” is three things. 


So many different scales of things and some many different styles of things

Even though I love that stuff.

That’s the easy stuff.

People care intensely about this stuff. 

If I challenge people to build…

More information on Deaccenting

Geoff Lindsey’s Intonation: deaccenting.      No time to Deaccent




Statements with a falling tone

  • (…) I feel so ↘︎dwarf by your musical gift. 
  • (…) that is the exact oposite intent of my ↘︎music. My music is meant to ins↘︎pire. And if it bothers you this much, then I won’t ↘︎play anymore. 

Exclamations with a falling tone

  • It’s ↘︎fun! God, I love how ↘︎sexy I am!  


Wh-questions with a falling tone

  • What about our catering ↘︎business?

Yes-no questions with a rising tone

  • You made ↗︎pancakes?

Open lists: rising tone on all the items.

Lots of things rhyme with Rachel! ↗︎Bagel, ↗︎mail, ↗︎jail, ↗︎bail, ↗︎cable, ↗︎maple…



Closed list: rising tone on all the items except the last one, which has a falling tone

  • Ok, you’re ↗︎whiney, you are ob↗︎sessive, you are inse↗︎cure, you’re ↗︎gutless, you don’t just sort of seize the ↗︎day, you know, you liked me for, what, a ↗︎year? And you didn’t do ↗︎anything about it, and oh, you wear too much of that gel in your ↘︎hair.

Implicational fall-rise in statements

  • So, Ross doesn’t really decorate his tree with floss, but you don’t hear him complaining, do you?


Question tags with a rising tone: genuine question (answer expected)

Question tags with a falling tone (not a question, no answer expected)