Intonation and Accent Reduction

What do you think is more important in terms of reducing your accent; correcting your problem sounds, or correcting your melody and pitch?  If you answered the latter, you are correct.  In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech.  It is generally accepted among linguistics that prosody accounts more for our ability to be understood than our individual sounds.

In conversation, native English speakers tend to highlight one focus word in a phrase (a noun, verb, adj. or adv. that conveys particular meaning).  As a conversation progresses, each new thought becomes the focus word.  Each focus word gets stress emphasis, and a change of pitch. Let’s take an example:

I lost my HAT. (“Hat” is the focus word.  It is the focus of the sentence.)

What KIND of hat?  (“kind” is now the focus, or new thought)

It was a RAIN hat.

What COLOR rain hat?

It was WHITE.

There was a white hat in the CAR.

WHICH car?

The one I SOLD!

Get it?  Each new idea gets emphasis, and a change of pitch.

Stay tuned…at the end of the week I will post a video demonstrating American English pitch patterns!


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