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G is for Given Information



Given information is information that is assumed by the speaker to be known to, assumed by, or inferable by the addressee at the time of the speaker’s utterance, because it is

  • common knowledge
  • part of the extralinguistic context, or
  • previously established in the discourse.

Given information often is  

  • placed early in the sentence and
  • spoken with a low amount of stress

Source: http://www.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOfLinguisticTerms/WhatIsGivenInformati…


Conversely, new information is spoken with a high amount of stress, called nuclear or tonic stress


Thinking Task

Here is the transcript from a clip from the   “Yes, Prime Minister”

It’s a series of aphorisms, which the PM delivers about British newspapers. Read through them and try to predict which parts of each utterance will be delivered with low stress (given information at that particular stage in the discourse) and which particular words will receive high/tonic/nunclear stress (New Information) 



Prime Minister:

“The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country,

the Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country.

the Times is read by people who actually do run the country.

the Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country.

The Financial Times is read by people who own the country, 

the Morning Star is ready by people who think the country ought to be run by another country, 

and the Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.”

Second speaker:

“Well, Prime Minister, and what about the people who read the Sun?”

Third Speaker:

“The Sun readers don’t care who runs the country as long as she’s got big tits..”


Now Scroll down please to listen to how these lines were actually delivered – listen from 1:04















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