Here is a recorded announcement I heard at a tube station recently.
\/Customers are re°quested | to ˈtake their ˈlitter \home with them.
As you can tell if you say this aloud, the lady making the recording spoke the right words but used the wrong intonation for them. The intonation pattern that she used bears an implication that the request is aimed at customers, but not at others. It implies a contrast between customers and some other possible subject. We might gloss this implied meaning as ‘although those who are not customers can leave their litter behind’.
What she ought to have said was
ˈCustomers are re\/quested | to ˈtake their ˈlitter \home with them.or just
ˈCustomers are reˈquested to ˈtake their ˈlitter \home with them.If she had placed the intonation break differently and said
\/Customers | are reˈquested to ˈtake their ˈlitter \home with them.then the fall-rise could have been interpreted as signalling merely non-finality, rather than the inappropriate contrastivity.
Dwight Bolinger has a number of further examples of people using the wrong accentuation (wrong tonicity) when reading scripted material aloud. Taken from broadcasts over San Francisco radio stations, they are to be found in Chapter 16 of his Intonation and its Uses (Edward Arnold, 1989). Here is one.
Some restrictions apply.Bolinger comments “There is nothing that a restriction can do but apply.” It ought to be
Some restrictions apply.
Maybe all this should be excused simply as the ingredients of a professional style. But for the constant listener it would be restful if occasionally the newscasters and their associates would just COOL IT. A daily exercise in taming the wild accents and toning down the ends of sentences might help.
Nannying station announcements are different from the compelling urgency of newscasters. But their use of inappropriate intonation can be just as annoying.