Intonation means the changes that someone makes to the sound of their voice when speaking.
The up and down movements in the voice can show meaning or emotion. These movements can also take the place of punctuation, such as commas or question marks.
Today on Everyday Grammar, we will explore the subject of intonation by using humor. We will show you how one comedian used intonation in ways that can teach you about American English and grammar.
The term rising intonation means the upward movement of the voice, often at the end of a sentence. In general, Americans use rising intonation in what we call “yes/no questions” -- questions that ask for either a “yes” or “no” answer. In some cases, these “yes/no questions” use auxiliary verbs, such as can or do, as in this example:
Do you know him?
One important point: in everyday or casual speech, Americans sometimes drop off – or leave out - the auxiliary verb do, as in:
D’you know him?
You know him?
Did you hear how the voice went up toward the end of the question?
That is rising intonation.
Let’s listen to part of a performance by the American comedian Dave Chappelle. Note how he uses rising intonation at the end of his “yes/no questions.” One quick note: Chappelle is mispronouncing the name of American actor Jussie Smollett on purpose. He refers to Smollett as “Juicy Somellier.”*
“Don’t ever forget what happened to that French actor
“You know who I’m talking about?
Note that Chappelle’s voice rose after the second line – You know who I’m talking about? This is a “yes/no question” that left out the auxiliary verb do.
The first line, a statement, has the opposite kind of intonation: falling intonation.
“Don’t ever forget what happened to that French actor”
Let’s listen to more from Chappelle’s performance:
Jussie Smollett - he’s very French, a very famous French actor...
Y’all never heard of Jussie Smollett?
In this “yes/no question,” Chappelle turns a statement into a question by changing the intonation of his voice. He also uses the informal structure y’all - which means “you all.”
Here is Chappelle’s question:
Y’all never heard of Jussie Smollett?
This is how Chappelle’s words would sound if they were presented as a statement:
You have never heard of Jussie Smollett.
Questions that are not Yes/No questions
You might be asking yourself about other kinds of questions: for example, questions that are not “yes/no questions.”
Such questions often have interrogatives – words such as what, why, when, or how.
Questions with interrogative words generally have falling intonation – the opposite of “yes/no questions.”
So, for example, if a person asked about who Dave Chappelle was making fun of, their question might sound like this:
Who is Jussie Smollett?
Or they might ask:
What is Dave Chappelle talking about?
The main idea of this story is that intonation plays an important role in showing meaning.
The next time you are listening to the news or watching a comedy show, ask yourself how the speaker is using intonation. Note the different kinds of intonation you hear – rising or falling.
Over time, you will begin to use intonation to show differences in meaning between statements, ”yes/no questions,” and other kinds of questions.
I’m John Russell.
John Russell wrote this story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
*This is a rough estimate of the name that Chappelle pronounced. It is not an exact spelling.
Words in This Story
punctuation – n. the marks in a piece of writing that make its meaning clear and that separate it into sentences or clauses
comedian – n. a person who makes people laugh by telling jokes or funny stories or by acting in a way that is funny
auxiliary verb – n. a verb used with another verb to how the verb’s tense or to form a question
mispronounce – v. to say or state (a word or name) incorrectly
refer – v. to direct attention to; to describe
informal – adj. casual; unceremonious
interrogative – n. a word used in questions
role – n. an actor’s part in a play or movie; a position or job
6 Minute English
Covid-19: The office after lockdown
EPISODE 200709 / 09 JUL 2020
The coronavirus outbreak is changing the workplace. As employees slowly return to work after lockdown, tech companies are busy finding ways for them return safely. Neil and Sam discuss new technology being tried in offices and teach you related vocabulary.
This week's question
The thermal cameras I mentioned screen for coronavirus by recording skin temperature in the area of the body which most closely resembles the internal body temperature - but which area is that? Is it:
a) the eye
b) the ear
c) the nose
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
the new normal
previously unfamiliar situation that has become usual or normalised
technology that allows computers, mobile phones and other devices to communicate with each other without being connected by wires
something or someone being near to another thing or person
down the line
at some point in the future
for its own sake
done because it is interesting and enjoyable, not because it is necessary
reasons why something is the right thing to do, based on evidence
Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript
Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I’m Neil.
And I’m Sam – still working from home, as you can hear. But for many, the return to the office has begun.
And to make things safe, new thermal cameras are being installed in some workplaces. They measure body temperature to screen for coronavirus.
After weeks of working at home the return to the office is slowly getting underway in a number of countries.
But workplaces are having to change in this coronavirus era. Lots of companies are rushing to install technology to make offices and workplaces safer. Sensors that monitor our movements, smartphone apps that alert us if we get too close to workmates and even devices that take our temperature could all become the new normal – that's a phrase we hear a lot these days, meaning a previously unfamiliar situation that has become usual and expected.
In this programme we’ll take a look at how this technology works and ask if it really is the answer we’re looking for.
But first, today’s quiz question. The thermal cameras I mentioned screen for coronavirus by recording skin temperature in the area of the body which most closely resembles the internal body temperature - but which area is that? Is it:
a) the eye,
b) the ear, or
c) the nose?
I’ll say a) the eye.
OK, Sam. We’ll find out later if you were right. Now, as employees slowly return to work, tech companies are busy finding ways for them to do so safely. One such company, ‘Microshare’, is managed by Charles Paumelle. He spoke to BBC World Service programme Tech Tent to explain a possible solution.
The technology that we are offering is using Bluetooth wristbands or tags that people are wearing within the workplace which detect proximity events. When the proximity event has been recorded its been saved by the company in case they need to, further down the line, retrace the steps of a certain person who has been declared as infected and inform anyone else they may have been in contact with.
One important way to control coronavirus involves contact tracing. This means that someone who tests positive for the disease informs everyone else they’ve been in contact with. Microshare’s system for this uses Bluetooth - technology that allows computers, mobile phones and other devices to communicate with each other without being connected by wires.
Employees wear Bluetooth wristbands which register when workers come into close proximity – how near a person is to another person.
Anyone who has been close to a workmate will then know they have to take action if that person is found to have coronavirus later down the line – in the future.
Wearing wristbands, monitoring data on smartphones and being recorded by cameras – it all feels like quite a big invasion of privacy, doesn’t it?
It certainly does, and although some argue that such measures are necessary in these unprecedented times, others are worried about the possible consequences. Here’s human rights lawyer, Ravi Naik, with a warning:
From a human rights perspective, you have to try to ask, are you trying to use tech for tech’s sake – is this actually going to facilitate an understanding of who is safe to go back to work or not? And if not, what’s the necessity of this because it’s such a significant interference with basic human rights. There has to be a high level of evidential justification to deploy this type of technology and I just don't think it's there.
Ravi questions whether these devices will actually help identify who can return to work, or whether the technology is being used for its own sake – an expression meaning doing something because it is interesting and enjoyable, not because you need to.
Ravi’s work as a lawyer involves finding proof that something is right or wrong. If people’s human rights are being interfered with, he thinks there has to be evidential justification – explanation of the reasons why something is the right thing to do, based on evidence. Like the evidence from screening body temperature…
…which bring us back to today’s quiz question. Remember I asked you which part of the body is scanned by thermal cameras to measure body temperature.
And I said a) the eye.
And you were absolutely right! There’s a small area of the eye close to the tear ducts which is the most accurate part of the skin for measuring body temperature.
Well, there you go. We’ve been discussing how thermal cameras and other workplace devices being used to prevent coronavirus are becoming the new normal – a previously unfamiliar situation that is becoming normalised.
Some of these devices are wristbands with Bluetooth – technology allowing computers and smartphones to communicate remotely without wires. They can identify work colleagues who have been in close proximity – in other words, near to each other.
That will be helpful if one of them tests positive for coronavirus further down the line – at some point in the future.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused massive changes in workplaces around the world but some critics are concerned that contact tracing technology is being used for its own sake - because it is interesting and enjoyable to do, rather than being absolutely necessary.
And since much of the new tech invades personal privacy it should only be introduced with evidential justification – explanation of why it is the right thing to do, based on evidence.
Unfortunately, that’s all we’ve got time for, but remember join us again. Bye for now!
By The Nation
"We will issue various measures, such as controlling the import of coconuts, checking coconut storage, and only allowing businesses to import coconuts via Bangkok Port and Laem Chabang Port customs offices," he said.
He explained that at the beginning of 2019, a network of coconut farmers in Prachuap Khiri Khan had urged the government to solve the problem of the falling coconut price.
"The Commerce Ministry responded by launching measures that were successful in solving the issue," he explained.
"Now, however, British supermarkets' move to ban Thai coconut products may cause an oversupply and pressure on the price because the country may not be able to process these products."
"Thailand imports coconuts under a World Trade Organisation agreement at a tax rate of 54 per cent," he added. "Thailand imported 112,130 tonnes of coconuts in 2019, down 43 per cent compared to the same period in 2018."
The Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) is monitoring the situation after British supermarkets banned Thai coconut products in response to a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) report claiming that Thailand was abusing monkeys in the coconut industry.DFT director-general Keerati Rushchano said that although the department is not responsible for exports, it will monitor the volume of coconut products in the country to ensure that prices do not drop.
PM defers security council meeting for discussions with economic team
By THE NATION
A report said that the prime minister will discuss the guidelines for helping the economy recover from Covid-19 impact. The meeting is scheduled for 10.30am.
The economic advisers set up under the Prime Minister’s order include Dissatat Hotrakit, Boontuck Wangcharoen, Piti Tanthakasem, Phairin Chuchottaworn, Sethaput Suthiwart-Narueput and Supattanapong Punmeechaow.
Friday, July 10, 2020