People Speaking: 9

Stampede for Salvation

Did you read about the woman who went to the mass
/ `-dɪd ju | riːd əbaʊt ðə ˏˌwʊmən | hu went tə ðə mæs  [1]

meeting of a certain American evangelist at Earl's Court?
ˎmiːtɪŋ | əv ə ˌsɜːtn əˌmerɪkən ɪ`vænʤəlɪst ət ɜːlz ˎkɔːt /  [2]

She went forward to declare herself for love or whatever
ʃi ˈwent ˈfɔːwəd | tə dɪˋ-kleər əself fə ˏlʌv | ɔː wɒtevr  [3]

it is, and in the rush of converts to get to the front
ɪ`-tɪz | ən ˊˋɪn ðə rʌʃ əv ˋˏkɒnvɜːts | tə get tə ðə ˋˏfrʌnt |  [4]

she broke four ribs and got kicked in the head.
ˈʃi ˈbrəʊk | ˈfɔː ˏrɪbz | n ˈgɒt ˊkɪkt ɪn ðə ˋhed.   [5]

She was yelling her head off in agony but with fifty
ʃi wəz ˊˋjelɪŋ ə ˋhed ɒf | ɪn ˋˏagənɪ | bət wɪð ˋfɪftɪ |[6]

thousand people putting all they'd got into Onward
ˋθaʊzn | ˋpiːpl | ˏˎpʊtɪŋ | ɔːl ðeɪd gɒt | ɪntu ˋɒnwʊd   [7]

Christian Soldiers, nobody even knew she was there.
ˋkrɪsʧən ˋˏsəʊlʤəz, |ˏˋnəʊbɒdi iːvn ˎˏnjuː | ˊʃiː wz ˋðeə.[8]

This speaker has a peculiar rhythm on woman in the first line stretching its second syllable unusually. His in the rush of converts demonstrates by its rhythmical integration with what follows what a crude descriptive device the division between heads and climaxes (or nuclei) really is. The first complex tone isnt just a sep·rate climax.

In she broke in line 5 we have an example of what Kingdon wdve called a high prehead (and notated diff·rently from a high head) substituting a high horizontal stroke for our Alt mark but this is an area in which I see little or no gain. The speaker is plainly not emphasising the word she (hence my indication of it not as /ʃiː/ but with its weakform) and the two Alts are in a sequential downstepping relationship.

Note that he uses tellingly four times vivid Climb-Fall tones on in the rush, yelling, agony and nobody. These last two words and the word fifty in line 6 are a good illustration of how difficult it is to classify what vowel quality an individual speaker has for the final-y sort of sound. The speech lexicographers Wells and Roach agree on referring to their use of /-i/ to represent this sound as a "neutralisation" but I find this categorisation unsatisfyingly an over-simplification. I think most speakers have clearly in mind a target which is either /i/ or /ɪ/ (or increasingly but still very much in a minority /iː/). The majority these days aim at /i/ though in Victorian times a much larger proportion — tho it's by no means certainly a great majority — plainly aimed at /ɪ/. What does happen is that everybody's target value is liable to be departed from under the influence of particular phonetic contexts. Any weakly stressed word-final vowel is subject to much variation. Here we have a speaker who has, I think, either /ɪ/ or an actual — not a conditioned — neutralisation as his target yet we can hear that in the context of a following close vowel in nobody even he clearly has an /i/ value. It shd be clear to EFL users of a British accent that /i/ is their appropriate target. German native speakers for example often seem to have /iː/ as their target.

This monolog was taken from the play Look Back in Anger by John Osborne.