Haselnuss wrote:One further point of potential interest. There are several intonation patterns in English that simply don't exist in German. If you try to use those patterns in German it's the clear mark of an anglophone accent.
Definitely this! My native language is American English, and I was once told by my German teachers that my intonation was "sing-songy" and that I needed to speak with more consistent emphases on each syllable. On the one hand, I would like to improve my accent to be better understood; on the other, my accent is my accent and I talk how I talk, and in the reverse, I could hear a bit of their German accent when they spoke English. And that's fine! We could talk with each other in both languages
I have a loose theory about this that I'd appreciate your thoughts on: you place whatever you want to emphasize before the position II verb in German, where in English you would use your intonation and not change the word order.
Without emphasis: Ich bin die ganze Woche zuhause geblieben.
With emphasis: Die ganze Woche bin ich zuhause geblieben.
Without emphasis: I spent the whole week at home.
With emphasis: I spent the whole week
So when I say, "Ich bin die ganze Woche
zuhause gelieben", that is a flag to a native speaker that I am not one too.
I understand exactly what you're asking here, but I think the answer is simply above my pay grade. We need a native German speaker to weigh in here.
For those who are playing along at home, the premise of the question is essentially: German has a more flexible word order than English, and as a result one can move words around in the sentence structure in order to emphasize information value rather than having to rely on prosody, as English often does, to convey newsworthiness of individual items. Specifically, German often places the most newsworthy item at the initial position of the sentence that comes just before position-2, which is reserved for the finite verb.
So in German if you want to emphasize the news value of the phrase "die ganze Woche", the text-book way to do that is simply to move it to the beginning of the sentence. In English on the other hand, the most natural way to emphasize the news value of "the whole week" is to leave it in the middle of the sentence but to give it stress (rather than intonation) emphasis. So the question is whether it would sound unnatural in German to do what you'd do in English, namely to leave the phrase "die ganze Woche" in the inner field (middle) of the sentence and lend it stress (Betoning) emphasis.
Let me go off on a related tangent here. It is possible in English to move the most newsworthy item to the beginning of the sentence, but this is normally done in standard English only when you want to really emphasize it; this doesn't happen that often.
(standard) I really like that dress. (... and there may be other things I like as well)
(extra emphasis) That dress I really like. (... it's really all about the dress for me)
To get this back on a German-related track, there are some German-influenced dialects of English where the most newsworthy item is routinely
moved to the initial position of the sentence, accompanied by the German intonation pattern of level pitch until an abrupt fall in pitch at the end of the sentence. What comes to mind for me is the kind of Yiddish-influenced New York accent you hear on a TV show like Seinfeld. (Yiddish is very closely related to German, so some descendants of Yiddish speakers have carried over German/Yiddish syntax and prosody into their dialect of English.)
(standard) I don't like this babka very much.
(Seinfeld) This babka I don't like so much. (... the other varieties of babka are ok.)
So a take-away point for anglophones learning German seeking a more natural sounding accent and syntax, is to think of the voice of the actor Jerry Stiller (who played the role of father of the character of George Constanza on Seinfeld) and go from there. My experience has been that a bunch of the typical German intonation patterns often sound like the punch lines of Catskill comedians.