04 March 2017

Circle Line

In my previous post about recorded messages in the Singapore MRT trains, I discussed pronunciation of 'next station' that deviates from the way that people in Britain or America might say the phrase.

Another utterance in which the pronunciation deviates from what would be expected in Britain or America involves the phrasal noun 'Circle Line' (and indeed other lines, such as 'North-East Line'). Consider this recorded utterance I heard on the MRT trains:

Change at this station for the Circle \LINE

The sentence stress is placed on 'line', becasue it is the last word in the utterance. But 'Circle Line' is a phrasal noun, and the standard pronunciation of phrasal nouns involves putting the main stress on the first element: TRAFfic lights, PARKing ticket, POST office, CARbon paper, FOOTball field, TENnis court, SWIMming pool, CIRCle line, etc.

Does this failure to use phrasal noun stress in Singapore matter? Probably not, for it is hard to imagine anyone misunderstanding 'circle LINE'. In fact, the use of falling intonation with the main stress occurring on the final item of an utterance seems to be adopted to clearly indicate the end of the utterance, so it actually has an important role in the intonation of Singapore English.

I suspect that I may be the only person in Singapore who actually notices the difference between 'CIRCle line' and 'Circle LINE'; so I I see no need for the MRT authorities to go and change their recordings. In fact, the way the utterances are said probably resonates well with local people