LINGUIST List 3.145

Sat 15 Feb 1992

Disc: Intonation In Announcements

Editor for this issue: <>


Directory

  1. , RE: 3.142 Queries: Registers, Acquisition
  2. Richard Ogden, aeroplane talk
  3. ,
  4. Geoffrey Russom, Re: 3.142 Queries: Registers, Acquisition
  5. Paul Hopper, Re: 3.142 Airplane Talk
  6. , Re: 3.142 Queries: Registers, Acquisition

Message 1: RE: 3.142 Queries: Registers, Acquisition

Date: Thu, 13 FEB 92 14:17:24 GMRE: 3.142 Queries: Registers, Acquisition
From: <DJ_GRADDOLvax.acs.open.ac.uk>
Subject: RE: 3.142 Queries: Registers, Acquisition


Is not the intonational pattern Michael Newman talks of (emphatic stress
in plane announcements) part of a more general style used widely by
announcers in stores, public places, switchboard operators and the like?

I'm not sure whether the stress is best described as 'emphatic', but
stress does seem to fall ON non lexical items including, frequently,
prepositions. I have been developing a hypothesis that the phenomena
is linked to 'voice' (in the Bakhtinian sense). People reading scripts,
performing institutional rituals, who are not speaking in their 'own' voice
and who might like to disassociate the 'self' from the message (particularly
the coding of affect and pragmatic commitments which are encoded in intonation)
may find the strategy attractive.

There again, it might just be an irritating fashion.

David Graddol
Open University
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Message 2: aeroplane talk

Date: Thu, 13 Feb 92 14:23 GMT aeroplane talk
From: Richard Ogden <RAO1VAXB.YORK.AC.UK>
Subject: aeroplane talk


This 'aeroplane talk' style is surely more than planes and trains and
announcements?
There is a whole load of stuff that people do in this style - stressing
prepositions, using the words 'basically' and 'obviously' and any
complicated word where a simple one will do. And saying the same things
over and over again using slightly different words.
There was a programme on TV a few weeks ago (BBC2) looking at people's
homes. One woman had done out her fireplace in 'Georgian' style: 'we
did buy the tiles from B&Q... we do think the fireplace IS the focal
point OF the room, where your eyes focus on as soon AS you come in...'
(almost a direct quote; it was so funny it was memorable).
There's a particular voice quality that goes with it too - like lowered
larynx and breathy or something like that. Oh yes and an accent that's
not quite posh enough but not what you'd call 'common' (sorry about the
snobbery, but it is part of the social repertoire).
Perhaps this way of talking is for those who want to be seen to be better
than they really think they are?

Richard Ogden
PS The comedian Victoria Wood has got this style to a tee; she uses it for
her sketches of women selling make-up in posh department stores.
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Message 3:

Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1992 09:44 EST
From: <>
Subject:
 <SDFNCRritvax.isc.rit.eduSubject: airplane talk

I, too have noticed funny stress patterns in airplane talk, namely that
prepositions are stressed: "Please put your bags IN the overhead bin or
UNDER the seat in FRONT of you. It's as though they want to even out
the stress patterns by putting stress on items that normally don't receive it.
Susan Fsicher
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Message 4: Re: 3.142 Queries: Registers, Acquisition

Date: Thu, 13 Feb 92 10:34:04 ESRe: 3.142 Queries: Registers, Acquisition
From: Geoffrey Russom <EL403015brownvm.brown.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.142 Queries: Registers, Acquisition

On "airplane talk" such as "We WILL be delayed," etc. The only thing
I can figure out about this curious stressing of the meaningless is that
it gives a sort of overall "honk" or "authority" to the
message while still preserving a kind of "detachment," "impartiality,"
"politeness," or "dignity," by virtue of avoiding any REAL emphasis
on any issue of SUBSTANCE. It's like the spokesperson is signalling us
energetically that this stuff is important and sending the "I'm cool"
message simultaneously.

 -- Rick
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Message 5: Re: 3.142 Airplane Talk

Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1992 21:03:21 Re: 3.142 Airplane Talk
From: Paul Hopper <ph1u+andrew.cmu.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.142 Airplane Talk

On airplane talk: it isn't just auxiliaries that get stressed;
prepositions do, too ('...until the aircraft HAS come to a complete stop
AT the gate.') Moreover, there's do-insertion everywhere ('At this time
we DO ask that you DO put your trays and chairs IN the upright
position').

A (written) regulation is being cited, and the announcer is taking
responsibility not for the content of the regulation but only for urging
its implementation. I think this sort of intonation (peaks on
auxiliaries and prepositions) is characteristic of other situations
where paying customers have to be asked to conform to a regulation, too.
You hear it from tour guides, for example: "We DO ask that you DO NOT
step past the red ropes IN the bed-chamber..."; here, "Don't step past
the red ropes in the bed-chamber" would be taken as an act of assertion
on the part of the guide, and hence challengable, rather than one
referrable to a higher authority, and hence unchallengeable. The unusual
intonation sort of dislocates the utterance, almost like putting it in
someone else's mouth, comparable to reading it out loud from a written
source.
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Message 6: Re: 3.142 Queries: Registers, Acquisition

Date: Fri, 14 Feb 1992 16:39 ESTRe: 3.142 Queries: Registers, Acquisition
From: <DERBYSHIREzodiac.rutgers.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.142 Queries: Registers, Acquisition

Concerning airplane talk, this seems to be some sort of growing trend
among people who have to address the public. Listen to any number of
talk shows from the NY area, and you'll hear the host say something like
"I AM Bill Bresnan......." Who said that you WEREN'T?
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