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Auteur: Tetiana SKRYPNIAK

Rhetoric aspect of prosody in a German sermon

Abstract/Résumé: This research focuses on the analysis of the rhetoric aspect of German sermon prosody as a factor of speech influence on a recipient with regard to the aspect of his emotional involvement and persuasion. Specific modification of prosodic parameters (pitch contour, prominence, rhythm, tempo and pauses) in a German sermon contributes to the achievement of the main goal set by the priest: to captivate a parishioner by the message of the sermon so that he not only remembers the speech but also implements moral norms and principles represented in it (Thiele 1990). Under consideration are an original fragment of a German sermon delivered and recorded during a divine service and a fragment with the same lexical content recorded by a phonetician in a controlled lab environment with the neutralized prosodic characteristics. Consequently two fragments have been compared using the method of Semantic Differential that measures people's reactions to stimulus (sermon) and concepts in terms of ratings on bipolar scales defined with contrasting adjectives at each end. Such adjectives are hearer’s associations emerged during the perception of a text. Scales measure directionality of a reaction (e.g., good versus bad) and also intensity (slight, quite, extreme) (Eagly & Chaiken 1993). Four groups of recipients participate in the experiment: parishioners of a church who listen to the original fragment of the Sermon; parishioners of a church perceiving the modified fragment of the Sermon; not church goers assessing the original fragment and not church goers perceiving the modified fragment. Following levels of changes in the semantic space of a recipient may occur: changes in attitude of a subject to an object; changes of total emotional mood of the recipient and changes of the categorical structure of individual consciousness (Petrenko 2006). Changes in attitude of a subject to an object occur by one time perception of the text by non-church-goers. By repeated perception of the Sermon changes of total emotional mood and changes of categorical structure of individual consciousness may take place (Nadeina 2003). Furthermore German recipients tend to associate wide pitch excursions with sudden rise and fall in a sermon with such factors as “extremely active”, “extremely persistent”, “"slightly aggressive”; narrow pitch excursions are perceived as “extremely monotone”, “quite boring”; frequent stresses in rhythmical groups underline more semantic centers and cause appearance of such associations as “clear”, “important”, “understandable” etc., creating specific rhythmical pattern that may exert perlocutive effect on the audience; extremely long pauses irritate listeners; psychological pauses allow parishioners to process important information from the point of view of the priest.