ˈMy ˋ- wife’s | gone to the West ˋIndies./maɪ waɪfs gɒn tə ðə west ɪndiz / 
ˋˏNo. ˈShe | went of her ˏown ac`cord./nəʊ. ʃi went əv ər əʊn əkɔːd / 
ˋ-Who was that `lady | I ˋsaw you with ˈlast ˎnight?/huː wz ðat leɪdi aɪ sɔː ju wɪð lɑːs naɪt?/ 
ˋThat was no ˏlady. ˋThat | was my ˋwife./ðat wz nəʊ leɪdi. ðat wz maɪ waɪf./ 
And ˈthese, | ˏladies, | are the famous ˋfalls. If you can
ˋtalking for a ˏmoment, | you’ll be able to ˋˏhear | their
and ðiːz, leɪdiz, ə ðə feɪməs fɔːlz. ɪf ju
kn stɒp tɔːkɪŋ fər ə məʊmənt, jul bi eɪbl tə hɪə ðeə maɪti rɔː. 
In the first line wife’s has a Fall-to-Mid climax tone
has an interrogative Fall-Rise. Of course the joke is that his
questioner is taken by the man to be asking “Did you make (ie
compel) her?” The first syllable wouldn't sound exactly like
/ʤə/; but /ʤu/, which is what a speaker might really say, isn't very
different from it because /ʤ/ is one of the six consonant phonemes of
English that are characteristically made with some rounding of the
lips: the other five are / ʧ, ʃ, ʒ, r / and /w/.
You may have observed that lady is repeated in the very next
apparently breaking our rule that accented words are not immediately
re-accented that we have given at Accentuation, Item 1 Section 8
Intonation and Prosody on this website, but please remember that at its
subsection 12 it explains about semantic re-focusing which is what we
The first use of the word lady here shows it used to refer
a female person but the second sense here can be one of two further
possibilities. One of these suggests the sense “not just any
female person but a uniquely important etc one for the speaker". The
other sense could signify — and herein lies the joke
“a well brought up female of repectable manners and / or
morals”. Hence the possibility of re-accentuation because the
semantic focus has shifted.
In the first half of the line I've shown lady as accentually
because classifiable as a split Fall-Rise tone with only one accent
— what O’Connor and Arnold mightve shown as ˋˊ That
˳lady. In the second half I show That as a climax tone in a separate
unit by inserting a vertical bar. (Their use of the notation ˋˊ for a
Fall-Rise tone wd only be justifiable in their didactic context: in our
situation it wouldnt work. See Gimson's comment quoted at this website
§8.4.26.) It could have been made less ambiguous by the
he'd used a Fall-Rise climax tone on wife (ˋˏwife).
Regarding the word last in the first line of this exchange,
don't think any / t / is audible but fascinatingly the speaker had a
very slight slip of the tongue by which she contaminated the /s/ with
the dentality of the /ð/ at the end of the previous word
a dual articulation [θ/s]. As to whether one is most
representing what is heard for was by /wəz/ or by /wz/ it is very often
quite difficult to decide. My policy is to use /wz/ unless a schwa is
Joke # 3 of course purports to be declaimed by some tourist
brief monologue illustrates clearly that I avoid using the vertical bar
unless the normal punctuation would involve ambiguity. For example the
two final words, although so closely linked grammatically, are
tonologically very distinct forming two separate intonation units.
There’d be no gain by inserting a bar between them
On the contrary the word their previous to them is not treated by the
speaker as a tail to the tone it follows so the bar makes this fact
Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.
/ ˋ-weɪtə ðeəz ə ˋflaɪ ɪn maɪ suːp./
Then perhaps you’d prefer a red wine, sir.
/ˈðen pəˈhæps | jud prɪfɜːr ə ˎred waɪn sə./
We might have expected ˊWaiter or more ingratiatingly ˋˏWaiter. ˋWaiter
might have sounded a bit brusque. Our diner seems to be compromising.
The waiter sounds suitably measured and judicious and, of course
ridiculously, implies that the fly is red meat. Actually, there was a
minute falling movement on the final word (sir) but it was too weak to
be worth marking.
Why do you always answer me by asking another question?
/ˈwaɪ dju ɔːlweɪz ˈɑːnsə mi baɪ ˈɑːskɪŋ ənʌðə ˎkwestʃən./
The male frend sounds a bit prim judging by his measured rhythm. If
he'd used a Rise climax it mightve sounded humouring or like one of a
series in an official interrogation.
/ˈæm aɪ | ðə ˈfɜːst ˈmæn | huz ˈevə ˎkɪst ju./
Of course, you are, darling. You boys all ask the same silly questions.
/əv ˋkɔːs ju ɑː dɑːlɪŋ. ˈju ˈbɔɪz | ˈɔːl ˈɑːsk | ðə ˈseɪm ˈsɪli ˎkwestʃənz./
The first two slowish level climax tones tend to sound declamatory. She
has two such tones as well but her tempo throughout makes her sound
brisk and matter-of-fact.