How would you read this notice out loud? What intonation pattern(s) would you use? Where would you put intonation breaks? Which words would you accent? (The choice of actual tone is, as usual, less important and less constrained.)
Two breaks go, fairly obviously, at the points where the commas are written. There are optional intonation breaks at the ends of the first and second lines of writing. The nuclear accents in the resulting intonation phrases go on Conservators, responsibility, of, and from.
- The Conˈservators | accept ˈno responsiˈbility | for ˈloss ˈof, | or ˈfrom, | …
But I think we need a further break after to, with a nuclear accent on that word.
- The Conˈservators | accept ˈno responsiˈbility | for ˈloss ˈof, | or ˈfrom, | or ˈdamage ˈto | ˈvehicles ˈparked in this ˈcar park.
I find it difficult to explain, in terms intelligible to EFL students, just why this must be so. Perhaps my command of syntactic analysis, or logic, or pragmatics, is insufficient. OK, the items of and from are in contrast (“loss of vehicles”, “loss from vehicles”), so they receive contrastive focus. Then these categories of loss are in contrast with a further category. damage, so we need an accent there, too. But why do we need to put contrastive focus on to? Despite appearances, to is not in logical contrast with of, from, or with anything else.
But I think it would sound bizarre to read the notice aloud without a contrastive accent on to.
There must be a generalization here to be made about the accenting of prepositions in elliptical coordinated structures. Yet I am not sure what it is.
Sometimes we have a choice of accentuation patterns.
- Any interˈference with, | or ˈdamage to, | this instalˈlation | will be subject to a fine not exceeding £500.
- Any interˈference ˈwith, | or ˈdamage ˈto, | this instalˈlation | will be subject to a fine not exceeding £500.
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As for the word stress in conservator, there are two possibilities in contemporary BrE, ˈkɒnsəveɪtə and kənˈsɜːvətə. The OED says (entry updated 2010)
In some 18th and 19th cent. sources (see e.g. Johnson 1755, Sheridan 1780, Smart 1849) the word is recorded with stress on the third syllable. From 1947 onwards editions of D. Jones Eng. Pronouncing Dict. distinguish between use of the word in the sense ‘official guardian’ … with stress on the second syllable and use in the sense ‘preserver’ … with stress on the first syllable.
The officials looking after Wimbledon Common are known locally as the kənˈsɜːvətəz. However I’m not sure that many people would observe Jones’s distinction consistently, so in LPD I just give both alternatives.