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English Pronunciation Pod 60

Saturday Apr 10th, 2010
English Pronunciation Podcast 60-
Intonation Pattern #1:
Jump Up, Jump Down
Learn an important intonation pattern of American English.


In this week's podcast, we're going to learn an important intonation pattern of American English.
The pattern is called jump up, jump down and it is an essential part of speaking English
with an American accent

The focus of this week's podcast is:

  • To learn how and when to use the jump jump down intonation pattern in English.
  • To practice using this pattern in some key American phrases and idioms.

As we previously learned in podcast #56, stress in English equals a rise in intonation and a lengthening
of the vowel.

Intonation is a Signal

Think of intonation as a signal which we give to our listener. It is a signal which highlights the most important pieces of infoprmation in our phrase. Without these intonation signals, it can be difficult for our listener to understand us.
We want to pay attention the way we rise and the way we fall as well. The particular way that we manipulate the change in pitch is a key part of the American accent.

If you want to send the right message and make the right impression, it's important to use an intonation pattern appropriate for what you intend to say.

There are four main intonation patterns in American English:

In todays podcast, we're going to learn one of these patterns known as jump up, jump down.

Let's begin with a simple example.

I'm happy.

First, lets determine our focus word. The focus word, as you may recall, is the word which contains the newest and most important piece of information and therefore receives the most stress.
The focus word here is of course "happy."

But now let's examine exactly how I stress that syllable, how I raise my pitch and also how I lower it. In this case, I jumped up on the stressed syllable /hæ/ and jumped down into the unstressed syllable /pi/.

It's important that you jump up high but, not too high and then jump down. The change in interval is quite sudden and this is why we call it jump up, The importance of how you approach the tone wil be discussed shortly.

Please listen and repeat paying careful attention to the way you rise and fall:

I'm happy.

Here's another example:

I'll call you.

My focus word was "call". I jumped up on the stressed syllable "call" and jumped down into the next unstressed syllable "you."

Please listen and repeat:

I'll call you.

When to Use Jump up Jump Down:

We use this pattern in two cases.

1) Statements: as in "I'm happy." or "I'll call you."

2)Information Questions:
Information questions are questions which begin with what, where, who, when, why. In these types of questions, we use a falling intonation pattern; we jump and we jump down.

Other types of questions such as Yes/no questions, "are you happy?" will have a rising pattern with no fall . Rising intoantions will not be discussed in today's podcast. Our focus today is the rising and falling pattern
jump up, jump down.

Avoid these Common Mistakes:

You may be wondering why we're paying so much attention to this seemingly simple pattern of jumping up and jumping down. However, the pattern is not as simple as it seems. There are some common mistakes that students often make with these patterns and these mistakes often convey the wrong message to their listener.

Falling Without Rising First

The first mistake students of English often make is falling without rising first.

Perhaps the students makes the vowel longer but never jumps up before falling. It might sound like this:

I'm happy.

In this case the speaker will sound uninterested, bored or even angry.to the American listener.

If someone would say "I'm happy" my reaction would probably be, "that's strange. you don't sound very happy."

Gliding Up instead of jumping up.

The second mistake students often make is that they glide up into the stressed syllable instead of jumping up.

I'm happy.

In this case my pitch got higher gradually. Instead of a sudden jump, I glided gradually.

In this case the speaker might sound sarcastic.

If we take another example such as "I'll call you":.

In this case, the glide might also add some intense emotion to the statement. It could be even a negative emotion such as being annoyed. but if my intention is to simply state an objective fact,
I wouldn't want to do that. I'd want to simply say, I'll call you.

Of course these mistakes in intonation are not intentional on the part of the ESL students and they occur because he or she is using an intonation pattern from their first language.

In any case, when we want to state something as matter of factly as possible, it's important to pay careful attention to how we approach the high pitch. We want to pay attention our pitch contour- how we bend and shape the rise and fall in pitch.

Let's practice jump up, jump down in some phrases and American expressions:

Exercise: Listen and repeat the following phrses paying careful attention to your intonation patterns. Jump up on the stressed syllable and jump down to the unstressed syllables.

See you tomorrow.

What's for dinner?

I'll keep you posted. ( I'll let you know how the situation is changing or progressing)

There are more intonation patterns that are important for speaking English with an American accent.
If you're interested in learning and practicing these patterns, and practicing today's pattern even more, I recommend that you try my English Pronunciation Course in mp3 format- Best Accent Training mp3s!

Best Accent Training mp3s contains all the sounds of English with step by step instructions and practice exercises.
You'll get all the vowels of English, all the consonants, syllable stress lessons, intonation lessons and connected speech!

Best of all, Best Accent Training is a fast and easy download that you can put on your mp3 player
and take with you wherever you go! I specifically designed it for that purpose.

Any questions, comments or suggestions ? Contact us at:   contact@englishpronunciationpod.com

Thank you and see you next time!


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- Domingo Ponce Rodriguez- - Marketing Manager USA (Spain)

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