Sunday, February 04, 2007

"Aaaaw look...."

I think I've stumbled upon the opposite of the High Rise Terminal. That's where the speaker's intonation rises at the end of a sentence, leaving you with the impression that they haven't finished yet. It's been big with Australian youth for years now. It's all over "Neighbours". Anyway, there's a similar intonational tic widely employed by Australian sports people. Just heard Gary Richardson interviewing the Australian cricket coach Tom Moody and he did it. Moody's putting himself in the frame to be the next England coach and so while he was keen to put forward his credentials he didn't want to be seen to be edging out the incumbent. So when Richardson tried to get him to officially put his hat in the ring he instantly employs what I'm calling the "Magnanimous Modulation". It goes "aaaw look, Duncan's a great coach yadayadayada..."
The key notes are the prolonged falling intonation in the "aaaww" and the "let's get serious" edge of the "look". What he's actually saying is "now clearly I think I'm head and shoulders better than the competition because I've got more basic talent, I work harder, I'm ten times tougher and I am, in the end, Australian, but I never lose sight of the fact that my key virtue is modesty." Listen out for it next time you hear an Aussie giving a post-match interview.

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