Embedded questions

Logically the accentual pattern seen in wh-questions ending with a verb is kept in embedded questions too. So, the direct question

(176) sound_loud_speaker How many muffins did you eat?

can be turned into the indirect question

(177) sound_loud_speaker I wonder how many muffins you ate.

The verb is deaccented again and the nucleus may correspond to either the subject or the object of an utterance. Interestingly, there might also be an oscillation between the two options in the same sentence. Wells (2006) illustrates both possible choices thus:

(178) sound_loud_speaker Do you know how many children Helen’s bringing?

(179) sound_loud_speaker Do you know how many children Helen’s bringing?

(180) *Do you know how many children Helen’s bringing?

In Wells’ example, then, it would be right to accent either the object or the subject of the embedded sentence. Accenting the verb, on the other hand, would be considered unacceptable.

Now, let’s see how clearly this pattern can be seen in Melvyn Bragg’s voice

(181) sound_loud_speaker Do you’ve any idea of how much time those jobs took? (Melvyn Bragg; Carlisle, Cumbria, UK).

And here are two more examples from naturally occurring language for further illustration.


(182) Guess whose room I passed / by my way down the hall (Kelsey Grammer; Virgin Islands, US).


(183) Do you think dad know he’s here? (David Hyde Pierce; New York, US).


This kind of deaccentuation seems quite likely to occur in embedded exclamations too, but the case is not usually reflected in the literature, so it must be left open to question. However, Colm Toibin’s example, in particular, is exceptionally clear.

(184) sound_loud_speaker I remember how sad they all grew (Colm Toibin; Enniscorthy, Ireland).

(185) sound_loud_speaker I think the thing which was amazing about his language is how exotic it must have sounded (Jonathan Bate; Kent, UK).



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