Review exercise H: sentence balance—goldilocks

One of the most fascinating things about spoken English is how the intonation prepares the listener for what is coming. As you know, the main job of intonation is to announce new information. However, there is a secondary function, and that is to alert the listener of changes down the road. Certain shifts will be dictated for the sake of sentence balance. Set phrases and contrast don’t change, but the intonation of a descriptive phrase will move from the second word to the first, without changing the meaning. The stress change indicates that it’s not the end of the sentence, but rather, there is more to come. This is why it is particularly to speak in phrases, instead of word by word.

When we practiced Goldilocks and the three bears the first time, on page 34, we had very short sentences so we didn’t need sentence balance. All of the underlined descriptive phrases would otherwise be stressed on the second word, if the shift weren’t needed.

There is a little girl called Goldilocks. She is walking through a sunny forest and sees a small house. She knocks on the door, but no one answers. She goes inside to see what’s there. There are three chairs in the large room. Goldilocks sit on the biggest chair. It’s too high for her to sit on. She sits on the middle-sized one, but it’s too low. She sits on the small chair and it is just right. On the table, there are three bowls of porridge. She tries the first one, but it is too hot to swallow. The second one is too cold, and the third one is just right, so she eats it all. After that, she goes upstairs to look around. There are three beds in the bedroom. She sits down on the biggest one, it’s too hard to sleep on. The middle-sized bed is too soft. The little one is just right, so she lies down and falls asleep.

In the meantime, the family of three bears comes home----the Papa bear, the Mama bear, and the Baby bear. They look around and say, “Who’s been sitting in our chairs and eating our porridge?” Then they run upstairs and say. “Who’s been sleeping in our beds?” Goldilocks wakes up when she heats all the noise and is so scared that she runs out of the house and never comes back.