Alternative questions generally form a combined tune in speech. The most common combinations of nuclear tones in the first and the second intonation-groups are: a) Low-Rise + Fall (High, Mid, Low), b) Mid-High Rise + Fall (High, Mid, Low).
The first pattern is suitable in all kinds of situations while the second conveys a more formal attitude.On analogy with General questions we may distinguish friendly and neutral Alternative questions.
When there are more than two alternatives, the combined tune contains more than two intonation-groups.
The Falling nuclear tone in the last intonation-group shows that the list of alternatives is complete:
e.g.: a) — Would you 'like a 'book by 'Charles Dickens | or 'would you prefer one of the modern books?
— I 'think I'll 'take 'David Copperfieldby Dickens.
b) — Is he 'coming on Wednesday | or on Saturday?
— Neither. He is 'quite unexpectedly detained in London.
When the list of alternatives is incomplete the last intonation-group has the same nuclear tone as the preceding one (ones) — the Mid- High Rise or a Low Rise:
—'Can she 'play the piano or the violin? (or some other musical instrument)
— Yes, she's been 'taking piano 'lessons for two years already.
Note: A negative reply to an alternative question with an incomplete list of choices is "No" (not "neither").
—'Will you have some juice | or soda-water?
— No, thank you. I've 'just had some tea.
The typical intonation patterns for Disjunctive questions are combined tunes of the following two types:
1 Fall (High, Low) + Rise (low, very rarely High) When the speaker is not sure of the answer or the listener’s opinion.
2. Fall (High, Low) + Fall (High, Low) When the speaker is sure of the answer and asks to keep the conversation going.
e.g.: Jane’s new coat is brown, isn’t it?
Jane's new coat is brown, isn’t it?
Ex. 1 Read the following Alternative and Disjunctive questions with all possible intonation patterns.
1 So you are a student now, aren’t you? 2 The lady isn't with you, is she? 3 The English climate is very changeable, isn't it? 4 How do you like your tea, Mrs. White, strong or weak? 5 Shall we go to the pictures tonight or shall we stay in and watch TV? 6 Is it the wrong size or the wrong color? 7 You haven't been to the doctor's, have you?
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