Tone Group I Low Drop

Tone Group I.
THE LOW DROP
imagine a small child, standing on the bottom stair and then jumping down to the foot of the staircase: Low Fall.

(Low Pre-head+) (High Head+) Low Fall
E.g.
·No.
·Nobody. Im
·possible. It's
·Arthur's
·turn. 'Sit
·down. I 'don't be
·lieve it.
Statements
All statements associated with tone groups containing falling nuclear tones (the Low Drop, the High Drop, the Long Jump and the Jackknife) sound definite and complete in the sense that the speaker wishes them to be regarded as separate items of interest. For example, if we say
He was
·tall, |
·dark | and
·handsome. ||
we are treating each of these three attributes as being a complete and separately interesting feature of the man; but if we say
He was tall, | dark | and
·handsome. ||
we are linking the three together into a single, composite picture. In the same way the final item in a list which is taken to be complete is normally said with the Low Drop, the other items in the list having a tone group with a rising nuclear tone.
Examples You can have tea, | or coffee | or
·milk. ||
You can 'send it ,home, | or 'leave it ,here | or 'take it
·with you. |

The use of the Low Drop for the last word gr
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·?Johnson.
How old are you?
·Twenty.

(ii) Announcements
You've got
·paint on your jacket. You're a
·fool. I must
·go.
(iii) Comments
I've got the sack. I can be
·lieve it.
I promised him nothing. I should
·hope not, in.deed.
If the High Drop were used instead of the Low Drop for these examples, with the High Fall nuclear tone rather than the Low Fall, the speaker would sound much less detached, much more involved in the situat
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·certain.
What shall I do? I 'simply
·can't i
·magine.
Can't we do something? You 'must be
·patient.
(ii) Announcements
He's the 'stupidest
·man I
·know.
I en'tirely a
·gree with you.

This tone group is commonly used to give weight to expressions of both approval and disapproval, of both enthusiasm and impatience. Examples
Why did he do it? I .haven't the 'slightest i
·dea.
What was it like? It was 'simply
·terrible.
Was it nice? It was 'perfectly
·wonderful

WH-QUESTIONS
With the Low Drop these questions sound searching, serious, intense, urgent, because of the power that the tone group carries. This power may again be used to reinforce both approval and disapproval. Examples
Now 'where did I
·put my
·pipe?
'Why did you
·do such a ,stupid ,thing?
'How can I
·thank you?

Extra power can be conveyed by these questions if the special finite is accented, rather than the interrogative word. Examples
How 'could you be so
·stupid?
How 'can I
·thank you?

The general effect is to lend such questions an exclamatory air, as if the speaker were saying that he could not begin to think how to answer his own question.
If the Low Fall occurs on the WH-word, as in single-word questions or in longer questions with only the WH-word accented, the attitude is again one of detachment and they often sound flat or unsympathetic, even hostile. Examples
Got any cigarettes?
·Why?
I've found a way to do it.
·How?
Someone told me to tell you.
·Who told you to tell me?
The use of the High Fall instead of the Low Fall in such examples makes the questions sound altogether more interested and more concerned.

YES-NO QUESTIONS
As we have already said, the most common way of asking yes-no questions is with the Low Bounce. When the Low Drop is used, the question is put forward as a serious suggestion or as a subject for urgent discussion. Examples
Well 'couldn't we
·borrow some money?
'Would you pre
·this chair?
'Shall we post
·pone it till
·Tuesday?

The Low Drop is also used when we are trying to keep someone to the point, to make him give a straight answer to a straight question.
Examples
But 'did you
·see him on
·Sunday?
'Will you be
·there by
·six?

Questions beginning with 'Will you...' are more often than not imperatives, and very strong ones at that. Examples
'Will you be
·quiet!
'Will you
·stop
·pestering me!
It would be a bold child who would dare to answer either question!

With negative questions of this kind the Low Drop gives a purely exclamatory effect.
Examples
'Isn't it
·wonderful!
'Haven't they
·made a
·mess of it!
'Wouldn't you
·think they'd
·do something a.bout it I
Similarly, 'Would you be
·lieve it\ is entirely exclamatory. Extra exclamatory force can be obtained by placing the nuclear tone on the special finite.
Examples
Isn't it
·wonderful!

·Aren't you a ,lovely ,cat!

·Didn't they ,make a ,mess of it!

In alternative questions the Low Drop is used to mark the last of the possibilities, the previous ones having tone groups with a rising nuclear tone.
Examples
'Would you like ,tea | or
·coffee? ||
'Have you seen ,John | or 'is.he
·still a
·way? ||
The fall in the last word group implies that these are the only possibilities.
For question tagsisn't it?, won't there?, oughtn’ t you? in the examples below the Low Drop is used when the preceding word group also ends with a Low Fall nuclear tone and when the speaker is demanding agreement from the listener.
Examples
What a 'beautiful
·day, |
·isn't it? There'll be
·seven of us, |
·won't there? You ought to be a
·shamed of yourself,
·oughtn't you?
Question tags are also used independently as comments on statements made by other speakers. If the Low Drop is used in these circumstances it conveys either lack of interest or hostility.
Examples
I've just come back from Paris.
·Have you?
John damaged your car today.
·Did he?
If the High Fall is used for such comments, the speaker sounds interested and not hostile at all.

COMMANDS
The power of the Low Drop is very evident with commands. They sound very serious and very strong. The speaker appears to take it for granted that his words will be heeded, that he will be obeyed. Examples
'Come and have
·dinner with us.
'Try the
·other .key.
Now 'take it
·slowly.

This tone group is particularly common with commands containing do and please; these emphatic words combine with the Low Drop to produce a very powerful effect.
Examples 'Do stop
·tickling. 'Please be
·quiet

Sometimes the Low Drop, with a Low Fall nuclear tone alone and no head, is used for short commands. These sound unemotional, calm, controlled, often cold.
Examples
·Don't
·Take it
·Sit,

interjections
The power of the Low Drop makes it a very suitable tone group for interjections. This power is at its greatest in interjections where a head is present, and for these the Low Drop is commonly used. Examples 'Oh
·goodl 'How ri
·diculous! How 'very pe
·culiar

In shorter interjections, when the Low Drop has no head and there is only the one accent, the power of this tone group is somewhat less in evidence; and the interjections sound calm, unsurprised, self-possessed, reserved.
Examples
·Good.
·Right. Good
·morning.
·Oh.
·Nonsense. Good
·evening.

Greetings like the last two examples can also be said with Good accented; in this case the power of the Low Drop is underlined and they sound rather ponderous. Notice, finally, that
·Thank you and
·Thanks express genuine, though un-excited, gratitude.






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