Extra-High and Rising Pitch Words
Comparing extra-high pitch words to rising pitch words
In American Englush Pronunciation, an extra-high pitch word is often used to add drama to a conversation. However, it can also be used to correct another speaker, and in some circumstances may be interpreted as more defensive, making it difficult for non-native speakers to use appropriately. An extra-high pitch can sound similar to a rising pitch word, which is simply used to show contrast or contradiction.
To contrast something (rising pitch) means to call attention to the difference between what two different speakers are saying. To correct someone (extra-high pitch) means to suggest that the listener is wrong and the speaker is right. Depending on the context of the conversation and the relationships involved,the tone of an extra-high pitch correction can make some listeners feel defensive.
Examples comparing extra-high pitch words to rising pitch words
The first example of each set uses an extra-high pitch word; the second example uses a rising pitch. Notice the change in content following the different types of pitch words.
In the first example, the word vitamins is said in a manner that corrects the listener's opinion of the speaker's health. In the second example, the speaker is also correcting the listener, but the contrastive rising pitch sounds much less defensive.
The first example emphatically states the intention to mow the lawn. The second example serves to correct a previous assumption that the lawn has already been mowed.
In the first example, the emphatic use of an extra-high pitch on the word hot shows that the speaker is adding drama to the statement. In the second example, the rising pitch shows contrast on the word hot. The speaker is contrasting what she expected the temperature in Florida to be.
Review related lessons:
Introduction to American English pitch words
American English high pitch words
American English extra-high pitch words
American English rising pitch words