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  • Hi, everyone. I am Jade. Today we are talking about the rhythm of English. And that's not

  • my normal voice. I'm showing you that because rhythm is really important when you're speaking

  • a different language, and every language has its own rhythm. So, I thought today, I'll

  • tell you a little bit about the rhythm of English. What does English actually sound

  • like if we break it down?

  • It's really important to improve the rhythm of your English speech, because we try to

  • avoid what's called monotone. Monotone voices are... Well, it's a big subject, but one thing

  • about monotone voices is they don't go up or down, and they're not very expressive.

  • So we try to avoid that, and we can see that actually in English poetry. And I think in...

  • I think poetry in general is one way that you can develop your rhythm in English, because

  • poetry is written in a way that calls attention to rhythm of English.

  • So here's a little bit of a famous poem in English. Don't worry if you don't know what

  • the words mean, because it's quite an interesting poem in that the words are invented words

  • for this poem. Like it's... They're not real things, but when we hear it, we get a sense

  • of what it means. But in terms of rhythm, it's interesting because so much of English

  • poetry is written in what's called iambs, which is basically an unstressed followed

  • by a stressed syllable. So I'll write that down for you. Iamb, stressed followed by...

  • Ohp, wrong way around. Unstressed followed by a stressed syllable and repeated like that.

  • And you've heard of Shakespeare, right? You have heard of Shakespeare, that famous poet?

  • Well, he wrote in iambic pentameter, which means five of those repeated. So, one, two,

  • three, four, five. Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter. Not continuously always through

  • everything he ever wrote, but if there was ever an important character in one of his

  • plays, that was in iambic pentameter.

  • This poem is not in iambic pentameter, because we don't have five. I'll show you. So, when

  • we read the poem... Well, when I read the poem, I want you just to listen to the rhythm,

  • and then I'll talk a little bit about it because it's one thing for me to tell you the rhythm

  • of English is iambs; unstressed, stressed, unstressed, stressed, unstressed, stressed,

  • but what does that actually mean? So, here we go, I'll read it to you.

  • "Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch.

  • Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious bandersnatch!"

  • So, poetry is more rhythmic and elegant than just our normal speech, but our normal speech

  • likes this unstressed, stressed, unstressed, stressed rhythm, so there is similarity.

  • So let's find where the stresses are here, so that when I read it again, you can follow

  • it. So, because it's unstressed, stressed, here is the first stressed. And, did you notice

  • when I read it, it was "behware", not "be-ware"? It's "behware". Our connecting words are not

  • so important. You can see here, unstressed words: articles, "the", "a", they're not so

  • important so we don't stress them. We can stress them but that's a different point.

  • Names, usually stressed. We had an unstressed there, so we're going to stressed again. Unstressed,

  • secondary stress.

  • We have one... Oo, it's not... You cannot see what I'm doing here. I'm going to put

  • it down a little bit for you. Stressed, unstressed, secondary stress. There's always one main

  • stress in a word, but if there's an extra stress, it's not as... Not as much as the

  • first. Unstressed, "my" is a pronoun. Pronouns: "he", "she", "it", "my", "his", unstressed.

  • Noun, stress again. And this is going to repeat throughout the poem, so I'm just going to

  • go a little bit quickly this... A little bit more quickly this time. Unstressed, stressed,

  • unstressed, stressed, unstressed, stressed, unstressed, stressed. Again, we've got "beware",

  • unstressed, stressed, unstressed, name. And the last line, again, unstress, stress, unstress,

  • and the word "bandersnatch" has two stresses, but the first... The main stress is on the

  • first syllable.

  • So, as I read it this time, try to follow... I dropped my pen lid. I don't need it. Try

  • to follow the notation of the stresses. So as I'm reading it, see if you can hear that

  • that sound, that syllable is harder, stronger. Some people see it as louder, some people

  • see it as stronger. For some people, it's like the stress is the hill, and the unstress

  • is the valley. So, yeah, just have a listen and see what it feels like to you.

  • "Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch.

  • Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun The frumious bandersnatch!"

  • And I had an invisible pause, there. We do that quite a lot in poetry. It's one sentence

  • or line, but quite often, we'll have invisible pauses there, and we'll say... Do that in

  • our normal speech as well. It's not always at the same rhythm. Did you notice, as well,

  • that unstressed words do not sound the same way as when we just read the word? That word

  • is "that", but when I read that line, it's quite different. "The jaws that bite, the

  • claws that catch." It becomes "thut" rather than "that". So an unstressed syllable loses

  • its full definition, you could say, and it's something that we pass over quickly and it

  • can often join the words next to it, because it's not so important. And similar with "and".

  • I'll read this again. "Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun". "Un", "un" or "und", not "and".

  • Could be "and", but saying "and" makes it sound more stressed.

  • So, what is rhythm? Rhythm is sentence stress, plus word stress and syllable stress. So we

  • look to word stress here on the individual words. Sentence stress is the... Some words

  • in the sentence overall are more important, so those are the ones with the biggest stress

  • or they're said the loudest, or is the clearest definition. For example, Jabberwock. "Beware

  • the Jabberwock, my son!" So this is where the stress most of all is there because language

  • flows. You can... Again, it's like hills and valleys, each line goes up to pitch.

  • And as a side note: "rhythm", possibly the hardest word to spell in English. This is

  • how I remember it: "Remember How You Told His Mum". That's two words, there. So that's

  • how I remember to spell that word, and now you can remember how to spell that word.

  • Okay, so you're probably thinking: "Okay, I see in these lines where the stress is,

  • but how do I apply that?" And maybe you want some rules or some guidance about that. So,

  • in general, the stress words are the important words that carry the actual meaning. The verbs,

  • the nouns, the adjectives, the adverbs, and the question words - these are where we like

  • you to find our stress. Whereas the grammar words, the words that sort of sew and link

  • these other words together, these are the unstressed words that will join the words

  • next to them; not be said with so much definition. There will be exceptions, but in general,

  • unstressed. When we come back, we'll look at how to apply sentence stress rules just

  • in... Sentence word stress rules just in our normal speech.

  • Let's have a look at how to apply sentence stress, word stress rules in our normal speech.

  • So I was thinking about greetings. "Greetings." And in English English, if you say to someone:

  • "Hi, how are you?" It feels impolite if the other person just says: "Fine." Something

  • is wrong about it. And I was thinking about that. It's not just in the word. It's not

  • really just the word "fine", it's in the rhythm, because we expect the reply to have an unstress

  • and a stress. So if you change "fine" to: "Fine thanks"... "Fine thanks", it sounds

  • fine. It sounds polite. Or if you... Most of our replies are two... Two syllables. -"Hi,

  • how are you?" -"I'm well.", "Good thanks."

  • -"How are you?" -"I'm well.", "Good thanks.",

  • "Fine thanks." Yeah, they're the main ones. But if you... The point to consider here is

  • just saying: "Fine." or: "Good." something feels a bit wrong about it, and I think that's

  • because of the rhythm, because we're expecting stressed, unstressed.

  • Moving on from that, talking about having a cup of tea. English people like to have

  • a cup of tea. "Cuppa" is a colloquial word for "cup of tea". So here we have a statement.

  • And you'll hear when I read this that it has a stilted harsh rhythm. "Stilted" means like

  • something not smooth, not flowing about it. So I'll read it: "You would like a cup of

  • tea." It sounds very strong, like a... Like a command. "You would like a cup of tea."

  • And I think the reason is the rhythm isn't off, because in our normal flowing speech,

  • we connect the words. So if we say: "You would", it's giving it a strong impact.

  • Whereas in normal connected, flowing speech, it would be like this: "You'd like a cup of

  • tea." We compress those words into one syllable. So I'll just show you where the syllables

  • are, where the stresses are. Here, what have we got? Stress. "You would like a cup of tea."

  • Something wrong about it, because we would actually prefer to stress "would" because

  • it's a question word here, but we can't because we can't have the two stresses together, so

  • something's a bit wrong about it. "You would like a cup of tea." You see, when I'm saying

  • it, I'm stressing it. So, anyway. Let's say that's why it's wrong, because it's half and

  • it doesn't meet... It doesn't fit what we want to hear; unstress, stress, unstress,

  • stress, blah, blah.

  • What about the next example? "You'd like a cup of tea." Stress there, let's say unstressed.

  • "You'd like a cup of tea." And these connecting words, they become schwas. "You'd like a cup

  • of tea." Because schwas are the sound in English which really connects between our stress and

  • unstress, so that's why we like them so much, because it gives us that rhythm. Dad, a, da,

  • dum, da dum, da dum. That's why we like them. Many, many schwas in the English language.

  • And then something else to mention is how we reverse the expected rhythm when we're

  • asking questions. And I think this is important because when we're just listening to someone,

  • maybe we're like paying half attention most of the time. But when a question comes, we

  • know that we need to pay attention because we're being asked something. One of the ways

  • we know that is because the rhythm changes. That's a really good way to get somebody's

  • attention, changing the rhythm of how you're speaking. So, how does it go then? "Would

  • you like"? "Would you like a cup of tea?" Would you like? Would you like? And I connect

  • it, and the sounds flow together: "Would you like a cup of tea?"

  • So, yeah, sentence stress and word stress, it... Together, is the music of the English

  • language. It'd be different in your native language, because we all have different rhythms

  • for our languages. One way to passively develop this is through reading English poetry. No,

  • not reading. Listening to English poetry, or also music, because music in hip-hop style

  • or something like that is in this rhythm, iambs; unstress, stress, unstress, stress.

  • So just pay attention to it, be aware of it. Don't feel that you need to say every word

  • correctly like a robot, because it's not... It's not musical. It doesn't sound nice to us.

  • So, yeah, what you can do now is go to the engVid website, do a quiz on this, and you

  • can subscribe here on my engVid channel and on my personal channel. I sometimes talk about

  • aspects of language like this, like not only what we do with language, but why we do it.

  • I look at some of those ideas, I share my thoughts with you. So, yeah, come and see

  • what I'm doing at my channel. And have I said everything now? Subscribe in two places, do

  • the quiz. Yes, I have. So I'm going to go now. I'm going to go now. See you later.

Hi, everyone. I am Jade. Today we are talking about the rhythm of English. And that's not

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A2 unstressed stress rhythm stressed cup tea

Go from BORING to INTERESTING with English rhythm

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    Sylvie MA posted on 2016/02/02
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