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Sentence-stress and word-stress: differences and likeness.


Intonation is a unity of:

ü speech melody (variations in the pitch of the voice)

ü timbre (tonal colouring of the speaker's voice)

ü sentence stress (relative degree of prominence given to various words in a sentence)

ü temporal characteristics(duration, pauses, tempo)

ü rhythm(periodic recurrence of rhythmic units of different size and level).

Functions of Intonation:

1) Delimiting –delimitation of utterances and parts of utterances in the speech flow

2) Syntactical – reflecting the syntactical relations in the sentence

3) Accentual – indicating more or less important elements of the utterance through contrasts in the degree of prominence of its different parts

4) Attitudinal (modal) – conveying the speaker's attitude to the subject-matter and to the communicative situation

5) Communicative – indicating the communicative type of an utterance


Speech melody deals with the elements of an intonation group (= sense group) and tones. The elements of an intonation group are:

ü the Nucleus(the basic element of the intonation group)

ü the Head (= the scale – tonetic unit beginning with the first stressed syllable and ending before the nucleus)

ü the Pre-Head (variations in unstressed or partially stressed syllables before the Head)

ü the Tail(unstressed or partially stressed syllables following the last strongly stressed syllable in the intonation group).


Account for the difference in the syntactical and semantic meaning of the following utterances.

1. Mary said | her sister is very good at cooking.

Mary | said her sister | is very good at cooking.

2. Mr. Johnson said | his pupil was very kind.

Mr. Johnson | said his pupil | was very kind.

3. My grandmother said | Isabel used to like dances.

My grandmother | said Isabel | used to like dances.

Classification of tones

Tones can be produced without the variation in the pitch (static /level tones) and with changing the pitch of the voice (kinetic /dynamic tones).

Static tones mostly occur in the head; they can be high, mid and low.

Kinetic tones usually make the nucleusof a sense group. They are classified according to the

· direction(falling, rising, falling-rising , rising-falling),

· width/interval(full, wide, narrow), and

· starting point ( high, mid, low) of the pitch change.


Sentence-stress and word-stress: differences and likeness.

As a rule, it is the stressed syllable of a word that carries the sentence stress. But there may be a lot of exceptions:

ü Not all the syllables that are stressed when the word is pronounced in isolation take the stress in connected speech; ü Short notional words can be unstressed in an utterance ü unstressed syllables of polysyllabic words may receive utterance stress ü functional words can take utterance stress


The distribution of stress in an utterance is determined by the interaction of two factors:

1) semantic and 2) rhythmic.

English Rhythm

The speech rhythm is the recurrence of stressed syllables at certain intervals of time. A stressed syllable pronounced together with the unstressed syllables forms a rhythmic group.

Types of unstressed syllables:

Proclitics Enclitics
Precede the stressed syllable Follow the stressed syllable
Faster speed of speaking Lower speed of speaking


Peculiarities of the rhythm of English speech:

ü The stressed syllables have a strong tendency to follow each other at approximately equal intervals of time. When the number of syllables in adjacent stress-groups is not equal, the tempo will be highest in the group having the greatest number of syllables.

ü The alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables results in the influence of rhythm upon sentence-stress.


All Falling tones in English sound definite, final and complete. Falling tones are typically used in special questions, statements, imperatives. The most frequently used varieties of the falling tones are Mid Wide Fall (MWF) and High Wide Fall (HWF).


The other varieties of the falling tones are High Narrow Fall (HNF) and Low Narrow Fall (LNF).


The falling tones have two structural variants:



1. the fall of the voice is realized 2. the fall of the voice is realized

on one monosyllabic word. on the stressed syllable, while

e.g. ̖ No the syllables of the tail form a

________________ level series on the pitch to which

the nucleus has fallen.

ö e.g. ̖ Beautiful



ö . .___________



¹ Tone Description Combinability Meanings and Usage
  1.     2.   LNF     MWF   The fall of the voice starts from about the mid-low pitch level and ends at the bottom of the voice range     The fall of the voice starts from high-mid level pitch and ends at the bottom, covering the mid and low pitch tones of the speaker’s voice range     1. without a Head in monosyllable utterances or with the Low Head 2. with the High or Stepping Head 3. with the Ascending Head 4. with the Low Scandent Head   1. reserved, cool, phlegmatic, grim 2.categorical, serious, considered, weighty 3. excited, agitated, impatient, irritated 4.indignant,resentful, exasperated Typical usage: - statements - special questions - imperatives Occasional usage: - general questions - exclamations
    3.   4.     HWF   HNF   The fall of the voice starts from a high to a rather low pitch. Sometimes it is as wide as the whole of the voice range   Ends rather higher   1. with the High Head 2. with the gradually Descending Stepping Head – High Pre-Head 3. with the Low Level Scale and Low Pre-Head 4. with the Ascending Head 5. with the Scandent Head   1. light, airy, involved, lively, interested 2. enthusiastic, concerned, insistent, interested 3. indignant, showing contrast 4. surprising, protesting 5.animated, indignant, impatient, surprising Typical usage: - exclamations - statements - imperatives - commands Occasional usage: - general questions


Date: 2015-12-18; view: 773

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