Comment on the prosodic features of this quotation: "Confusion shame remorse despair. At once his bosom swell. The damps of death bedewed his brow."

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"Prosodic features" is a term that encompasses the linguistic features of intonation, stress, and rhythm. These features are central to spoken and written communication in English and are different in English than in some other languages, say, for example, French, which does not have the syllabic stress elements that English has. To comment on the prosodic elements in the quoted lines, you will have to comment on where the pauses are to be; where the main stress of each line is to be; where linking occurs; and where intonation changes occur (intonation comprises pitch, loudness, and tempo).

To find the prosodic features of the quotation, you'll read it aloud for poetic rhythm. You'll find it is in the duple rhythm of iambs (x /): "Confusion shame remorse despair." Within the duple iambic framework, note where pauses occur. You'll note there are none within the first line, although there is a significant pause at the end of the first line, a pause that separates the first from the second line.

There would seem to be a logical link (no pause) between the second and third lines, yet, because a conjunction, like as, for, or because, has been omitted (i.e., At once his bosom swell as the damps ...), there is a pause between these lines.

Consider now the main stress of each line. There is no main stress in the first line: the words in each iambic foot carry the same weight of stress. The iambs dictate three stresses in the second line, but which carries the main stress? It is usually the principle noun, in this case "bosom," that carries the main stress, although verbs, pronouns, adjectives and adverbs may also carry stress. In the third line, the noun "death" carries the main stress.

Intonation in the first line is consistent as each iamb is emphasized in a pounding rhythm: the pitch, loudness and tempo are the same for all four feet of the tetrameter line. Intonation changes in the second and again in the third lines as the tempo speeds up, then slows, and as pitch and loudness increase for "bosom swells" and again for "death" in the final line.

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