Agrégation 2000-01

Composition de linguistique

Simulation d’une épreuve

a) Phonologie

MCCANN. Don’t touch me.

STANLEY. Look. Listen a minute.

MCCANN. Let go my arm.

STANLEY. Look. Sit down a minute.

MCCANN (savagely, hitting his arm). Don’t do that!

STANLEY backs across the stage, holding his arm.

STANLEY. Listen. You knew what I was talking about before, didn’t you?

MCCANN. I don’t know what you’re at at all.

STANLEY. It’s a mistake! Do you understand?

MCCANN. You’re in a bad state, man.

STANLEY (whispering, advancing). Has he told you anything? Do you know what you’re here for? Tell me. You needn’t be frightened of me. Or hasn’t he told you?

MCCANN. Told me what?

STANLEY (hissing). I’ve explained to you, damn you, that all those years I lived in Basingstoke I never stepped outside the door.

MCCANN. You know, I’m flabbergasted with you.

STANLEY (reasonably). Look. You look an honest man. You’re being made a fool of, that’s all. You understand? Where do you come from?

MCCANN. Where do you think?

STANLEY. I know Ireland very well. I’ve many friends there. I love that country and I admire and trust its people. I trust them. They respect the truth and they have a sense of humour. I think their policemen are wonderful. I’ve been there. I’ve never seen such sunsets. What about coming out to have a drink with me? There’s a pub down the road serves draught Guinness. Very difficult to get in these parts— (He breaks off. The voices draw nearer. GOLDBERG and PETEY enter from the back door.)

GOLDBERG (as he enters). A mother a in a million. (He sees STANLEY.) Ah.

PETEY. Oh hullo, Stan. You haven’t met Stanley, have you, Mr Goldberg?

GOLDBERG. I haven’t had the pleasure.

PETEY. Oh well, this is Mr Goldberg, this is Mr Webber.

GOLDBERG. Pleased to meet you.

PETEY. We were just getting a bit of air in the garden.

GOLDBERG. I was telling Mr Boles about my old mum. What days. (He sits at the table, right.) Yes. When I was a youngster, of a Friday, I used to go for a walk down the canal with a girl who lived down my road. A beautiful girl. What a voice that bird had! A nightingale, my word of honour. Good? Pure? She wasn’t a Sunday school teacher for nothing. Anyway, I’d leave her with a little kiss on the cheek —I never took liberties—we weren’t like the young men these days in those days. We knew the meaning of respect. So I’d give her a peck and I’d bowl back home. Humming away, I’d be, past the children’s playground. I’d tip my hat to the toddlers, I’d give a helping hand to a couple of stray dogs, everything came natural. I can see it like yesterday. The Sun falling behind the dog stadium. Ah! (He leans back contentedly.)

MCCANN. Like behind the town hall.

GOLDBERG. What town hall?

MCCANN. In Carrickmacross.

GOLDBERG. There’s no comparison. Up the street, into my gate, inside the door, home. "Simey!" my old mum used to shout, "quick before it gets cold!" And there on the table what would I see? The nicest piece of gefilte fish you could wish to find on a plate.

MCCANN. I thought your name was Nat.

GOLDBERG. She called me Simey.

PETEY. Yes, we all remember our childhood.

Harold Pinter, The Birthday Party, 1960, pp. 36-37.


1. Give a phonemic transcription of the following passage: "When I was a youngster [...] down my road." (ll. 42-44)

2. Account for the pronunciations of the letter <a> in the following list:

arm (l. 3), understand (l. 10), bad (l. 11), state (l. 11), advancing (l. 12), what (l. 13), all (l. 16), stadium (l. 54), hall (l. 56).

3. Represent the intonation of the following utterance:

"You understand?" (l. 21)

Compare this utterance with:

"Do you understand?" (l. 10)

4. Give two acceptable phonemic transcriptions for the word yesterday (l. 53). Compare them with the pronunciation of day in ‘What days.’ (ll. 41-42). Account for the difference.

5. Give the stress patterns of the following expressions: Sunday school (l. 46), playground (l. 51), town hall (l. 56). Justify your answers.

6. Comment on the pronunciation of the letter <h> in: "has he told you [...]" (l. 12), "an honest man" (l. 20), "my word of honour" (l. 45), "Humming away [...]" (l. 50), "town hall" (l. 56).

7. Compare the pronunciation of the two occurrences of at in: "I don’t know what you are at at all." (l. 9)

8. Explain the stress patterns of the following words: understand (l. 10), whispering (l. 12), advancing (l. 12), explained (l. 16), contentedly (l. 55).

9. Give a phonemic transcription of the following words: flabbergasted (l. 19), draught (l. 30), Guinness (l. 30), comparison (l. 59).

10. Give the phonemic symbols representing the vowel quality corresponding to the letter <o> in the following words:

go (l. 3), Basingstoke (l. 17), love (l. 25), wonderful (l. 27), Goldberg (l. 31), word (l. 45), for (l. 46), home (l. 50), toddlers (l. 52), dog (l. 54).

Account for the regular or exceptional correspondences recorded.

11. Compare and justify the pronunciations of there in "I’ve many friends there" (l. 24) and "There’s a pub down the road." (l. 29).

12. Account for the intonation of "I’ve many friends there" (l. 24).


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