LINGUIST List 7.123

Fri Jan 26 1996

Disc: Emphasis

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. "Harold F. Schiffman", Re: 7.113, Disc: Re: 7.88, Emphasis
  2. Johanna Rubba, Emphasis
  3. "David Weiss", emphasis
  4. Anton Sherwood, Disc: 7.113/7.88, Emphasis
  5. Regine Eckardt, Re: 7.113, Disc: Re: 7.88, Emphasis

Message 1: Re: 7.113, Disc: Re: 7.88, Emphasis

Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 15:12:15 EST
From: "Harold F. Schiffman" <>
Subject: Re: 7.113, Disc: Re: 7.88, Emphasis
I have also noticed the use of emphatic *do* and other auxiliaries in
airline announcements in the states, e.g.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we *are* preparing our descent into Chicago's Ohare
International Airport so we *do* ask that you *do* remain seated until
the plane has come to a complete stop at the gate. Let me say that we
*have* enjoyed having you on board today, and hope that you *will* choose
(name of airline) the next time you fly.

Hal Schiffman
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Message 2: Emphasis

Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 16:05:16 PST
From: Johanna Rubba <>
Subject: Emphasis

This is indeed a widespread phenomenon in Amer. English. It was first
brought to my attention when I was a grad student at So. Illinois U.,
where a professor in the speech comm. dept. had written a brief paper on
the subject (name of Brian Crowe, I think; I have a copy of the paper,
called 'Auxiliary stress in officialese').

Since then I have always noticed it -- on airplanes, in public
announcements of most any sort. I noticed it most strongly this past
summer when I went on a tour of the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico (along
with X number of other LSA Institute attendees). The tour guide used not
just aux. stress, but emphatic 'do' support in nearly every sentence. For
instance, 'the paintings that you DO see on the walls of this church'. I
was sorry I didn't have a tape recorder!!! The tour guide was an Acoma
woman; I don't know if her English was influenced by her language, by
American Indian English, by tour guide training, or all of the above.

I've always wondered what the motivation for this was; Crowe's paper puts
forward some ideas, but is short. I wonder if anybody out there has a

Johanna Rubba	Assistant Professor, Linguistics =
English Department, California Polytechnic State University =
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407 =
Tel. (805)-756-0117 E-mail: =
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Message 3: emphasis

Date: 25 Jan 1996 15:46:10 +0800
From: "David Weiss" <>
Subject: emphasis
In reply to the following question:
- ---------------------------------
Subject: emphasis in public announcements in Britain

I am not a linguist.

I have the impression that the following phenomenon has appeared in English in
 Britain during the last couple of decades (since I last lived there on a
 permanent basis). In announcements made to an audience, and in particular in
 announcements made in airports, railway stations and similar places, emphasis
 is put on the auxillary in the future tense, for example "Flight 123 to Paris
 _will_ be leaving at 10 o'clock".

In the English which I learned such emphasis implied such things as "despite
the fact that it was previously announced that the flight would take off
late" or "despite the fact that people have expressed doubt as to it's
taking off on
 time". The emphasis now seems to be used without its carrying such a meaning
 (or any other meaning).

Is this really a change which has taken place in British English. If so is
there an explanation?

David Lidsky.
- --------------

You'll be interested to know that stressing the modal also occurs in American
airports, and even more conspicuously, on U.S. airplane flights. Flight
always seem to say things like "we WILL be landing within 10 minutes" or "we AR
slightly ahead of schedule" or "items DO have a tendency to shift during
flight", so much so that this sort of "airline industry prosody" has even been
satirized on American television.

I guess it's not a British thing so much as an airline thing!

David Weiss
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Message 4: Disc: 7.113/7.88, Emphasis

Date: Thu, 25 Jan 1996 23:54:26 PST
From: Anton Sherwood <>
Subject: Disc: 7.113/7.88, Emphasis
Deborah Milam Berkley wrote:
: David Lidsky asked about emphasis on auxiliaries in public
: announcements in British English. I don't know about British English,
: but a similar change seems to be occurring in the U.S.A., and not just
: in the future tense. Auxiliary emphasis that I have noticed in the
: last 3-4 years occurs in public announcements, and also in
: (semi-)prepared speeches, ...

For as long _as_ I can remember (I didn't watch much tv _before_
about twenty years ago), news-readers _on_ television have had the
_peculiar_ habit of emphasizing prepositions and other _relatively_
insignificant words.

Anton Sherwood *\\* +1 415 267 0685 *\\*
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Message 5: Re: 7.113, Disc: Re: 7.88, Emphasis

Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 10:27:37 +0100
From: Regine Eckardt <>
Subject: Re: 7.113, Disc: Re: 7.88, Emphasis
Ad stressing auxiliaries.

I can not remember the original message, so that I don=B4t know how (and if)
this ties in. However I and many colleagues have noted, amusedly, that in
German TV news (and also other public announcements) people apply a strange
final-verb-stress. You may know that in German, the verb (or part of the
verbal complex) often appear at the very end of a sentence. So instead of
"Die Abgeordneten haben gestern die VerHANdlungen ueber den VERTRAG XY
begonnen." (more or less normal accent pattern)
you will hear
"Die Abgeordneten haben gestern die Verhandlungen ueber den Vertrag Xy BEGON=
(The deputees have yesterday the negotiations about the treaty xy

The contexts are obviously unfit for any contrastive or "newness"stress on
this verb (so the contextual question would NOT be "what did the deputees
do about the negotiations on treaty xy yesterday?")

Whereas I would have some idea where the auxiliary stress reported by
Lidsky and Deborah Milam Berkley MIGHT come from, I am totally puzzled by
this final verb accenting.

Regine Eckardt,
Universitaet Duesseldorf
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