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# Stress positions

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### Stress positions

1. 1. Stress positions What readers keep in mind...(1) 1) From: George D. Gopen, Expectations: teaching writing from the reader’s perspective, Pearson Education, 2003
2. 2. agency and perspective It is obvious that in the sentence "Peter hit Jane on the head with a stick." Peter is the agent. We also read this action from his perspective. Is this also the case in the sentence "Jane was hit on the head with a stick."? What about "The stick hit Jane on the head."?
3. 3. agency and perspective
4. 4. agency and perspective The noun or pronoun that is first mentioned in the sentence is usually the perspective of the action and therefore in stress position.
5. 5. another example As part of an experiment, a scientist wishes to measure the change in the temperature of a heated liquid over a period of time. She sets up the apparatus, takes a number of measurements, and records the perceived temperatures. She then wishes to present her data in print. Here is one possible arrangement:
6. 6. arrangement 1 t(time) = 15’ T (temperature) = 32°; t = 0’ T = 25°; t =6’T= 29°; t=3’T=27°;t=12’ T= 32°; t=9’ T=31°. Do you think it easy to interpret these data?
7. 7. Arrangement 2 How about if these data is presented as follows? After 15 minutes, the temperature was 32 degrees, at the beginning, it had been 25 degrees; at the 6-minute mark it was 29 degrees; after 3 minutes, the temperature was 27 degrees; at the 12-minute mark it was 32 degrees; and after 9 minutes it was 31 degrees.
8. 8. Arrangement 3 How about this? Temperature Time 25 0 27 3 29 6 31 9 32 12 32 15 It seems to tell us that if you want to let the time pass, you have to heat a liquid.
9. 9. arrangement 4 Time Temperature (in degrees) 0 25 3 27 6 29 9 31 12 32 15 32 This structure makes it a lot easier to understand the data, because of the fact that what shows up first gets in perspective.
10. 10. multiple stress positions The easiest way to make more stress positions is to make more sentences. If you want to create more than one stress position in a sentence, use the semi-colon (;). Or colon (:).
11. 11. colon What precedes the colon must be able to stand by itself as a complete sentence. What follows the colon redefines what precedes it.
12. 12. example The colon functions as a kind of “=” sign: a) This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit your TV. b) This film has been modified from its original version: it has been formatted to fit your TV. Any differences?
13. 13. More on the colon The other use of the colon is to introduce a list of examples. E.g. To bake an applepie one needs the following ingredients: apples, .... etc.
14. 14. The semi-colon The semi-colon is used to suggest that there is such an intimate relationship between the two halves that they need to be locked together in the same grammatical unit. It tells the reader to expect a continuation-complexification of the first clause. E.g.: The meeting ended at dawn; nothing had been decided.
15. 15. stressworthy information Although the rule is to put only stressworthy information in the stress position, look at the following example, in which this does certainly not happen, but in which it brings about a strong effect. Question is: should the case be heard in Massachusetts or in New Hampshire?
16. 16. New hampshire or massachusetts? In this case, the private interests of the litigants, the Bentham children, is best protected by a resolution of the issues in the New Hampshire Courts. The children’s mother, Hannah Bentham, dealt with an insurance company, Christian Mutual, incorporated in New Hampshire, with a principle place of business in Concord, New Hampshire, and purchased a policy which was issued in the State of New Hampshire, administered in the State of New Hampshire, and the proceeds of which would be paid from the State of New Hampshire.
17. 17. competition for emphasis What happens if you have two clauses, each with their own Stress position? Which Stress position wins in the end? Consider the following sentences:
18. 18. fred and his dog a)Although Fred’s a nice guy, he beats his dog. b)Although Fred beats his dog, he’s a nice guy. c)Fred’s a nice guy, but be beats his dog. d)Fred beats his dog, but he’s a nice guy.
19. 19. TWO considerations: End placement (whatever comes last wins) The main clause wins The following rules count:
20. 20. Fred and his dog... What happens with the four Fred sentences? a) Although Fred’s a nice guy, he beats his dog. end-placement: dog-beater; main clause: dog- beater. b) Although Fred beats his dog, he is a nice guy. end-placement: nice guy; main clause: nice guy. c) Fred’s a nice guy, but he beats his dog. end-placement: dog-beater; main clause: nice guy. In general, the reader vote is usually more negative than positive. Why?
21. 21. Fred and his dog.... d) Fred beats his dog, but he’s a nice guy. end-placement: nice guy; main clause: dog-beater. In general, the reader vote is distinctly more positive than in c). Why? Because when there is contradictory information, end placement wins.