Pronunciation & Accent: Inflection

In this episode from Perfect English Podcast, you will learn how inflection can change the meaning of a sentence without changing the words in the sentence. This happens by only changing which word you stress in the sentence.

Perfect English Audio Podcast Episode 18

After you’ve listened to the episode, check your understanding of inflection by taking this short quiz.

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What could the speaker mean based on the stress you see in the picture?

Perfect English Podcast EP 18 Quiz (1)
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What could the speaker mean based on the stress you see in the picture?

Perfect English Podcast EP 18 Quiz (2)
Correct! Wrong!

What could the speaker mean based on the stress you see in the picture?

Perfect English Podcast EP 18 Quiz (3)
Correct! Wrong!

What could the speaker mean based on the stress you see in the picture?

Perfect English Podcast EP 18 Quiz (4)
Correct! Wrong!

What could the speaker mean based on the stress you see in the picture?

Perfect English Podcast EP 18 Quiz (5)
Correct! Wrong!

What could the speaker mean based on the stress you see in the picture?

Perfect English Podcast EP 18 Quiz (6)
Correct! Wrong!

What could the speaker mean based on the stress you see in the picture?

Perfect English Podcast EP 18 Quiz (7)
Correct! Wrong!

What could the speaker mean based on the stress you see in the picture?

Perfect English Podcast EP 18 Quiz (8)
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What could the speaker mean based on the stress you see in the picture?

Perfect English Podcast EP 18 Quiz (9)
Correct! Wrong!

What could the speaker mean based on the stress you see in the picture?

Correct! Wrong!

Perfect English Podcast Episode 18 - Pronunciation and Accent: Inflection Quiz

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Episode Transcript

Welcome to a new episode from perfect English podcast. Today we’re going to talk about pronunciation. And to be specific, today, we’re going to talk about inflection and inflection in someone’s voice is a change in its tone or pitch as they are speaking. Why is this important in conversation because it can change the meaning. And to give you an example of what I mean, we will start with a very simple sentence. I didn’t say he stole the money. If you look at the sentence, you can understand it in different ways. But the general meaning is like somebody’s asking me, did you say that he stole the money and I say I didn’t say he stole the money. But notice when we put the stress on different words, the meaning changes. Let’s start by putting the stress On AI, if I say, I didn’t say he stole the money, what does that mean? That means someone else said it, not me. And that is why I’m stressing I. I didn’t say he stole the money. Someone else said it. It’s true that somebody said it, but I wasn’t the person. What if we put the stress on? Didn’t? We say, I didn’t say he stole the money. That’s not true at all. Someone has accused me and I’m protesting my innocence. So in the first one, I’m just saying that someone else said it when I stressed on AI, but here I’m saying that’s not true at all. I’m innocent. But now it gets interesting. If we try to stress say, I didn’t say he stole the money. What does that mean? It means I only suggested the possibility. Maybe I hinted it. Maybe I wrote it in some way. I indicated that he stole the money but I didn’t say it. You see he when we say Didn’t say he stole the money. I only suggested he stole the money. But I didn’t say it verbatim. And what if we put the stress on he? If we say, I didn’t say he stole the money, that means I think someone else took it. I think someone stole the money, only not the person you suspect did it. So here the meaning changes completely. I’m saying that he’s innocent. I didn’t say he stole the money. I think someone else took it. And what if we stress stole that also changes the meaning completely? If I say I didn’t say he stole the money. Maybe he just borrowed it. I agree that he took it. But I think his motive was different than you see, the meaning is totally different. Here. I know that he took the money, there’s no question, but maybe his intention was not to steal the money. Maybe he just borrowed the money and he’s going to give it back. And what if we stress the I didn’t say he stole the money, but try there’s some other money. We agree that he stole some money, but I don’t think it’s this money. That We’re talking about right now, he didn’t steal the money we’re talking about, but rather some other money. And finally, what if we stress the word money? I didn’t say he stole the money. He may have taken some jewelry, he may have stolen something else. We agree that He’s a thief. But we think he’s told different things. You might think that why should I care? Well, maybe you should care. Because a lot of the time, people don’t have to say a lot. They just say a few words. But changing the stress on the words can change the meaning considerably. And you will have to be on the lookout for these changes, and what they might mean. This is one example. Of course, in real life, it’s not as dramatic as this example. But pay attention when people change the inflection of their voice. When they change the stress on different words, that carries a different meaning. That’s all the pronunciation. We have. Today, I’ll see you in the next episode. Thank you very much. I hope you have learned a lot today and I’m pretty sure that your English is a step closer to perfect English. This was your host Danny. Don’t forget to subscribe. I’ll see you next time.

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