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Lecture 11: Intonation

(2) Definition

Intonation is a unity of speech melody, sentence-stress, voice tamber and the tempo of speech which enables the speaker to express adequately the meaning of sentences, his attitude towards their contents and his emotions.

(3) Components of intonation

q Speech melody, or the pitch component of intonation, is the variations in the pitch of the voice which take place when voiced sounds, especially vowels and sonorants, are pronounced in connected speech.

q Stress in speech is the greater prominence which is given to one or more words in a sentence as compared with the other words of the same sentence.

q The tamber of speech is the special colouring of the voice in pronouncing sentences which is superimposed on speech melody and shows the speaker’s emotions, such as joy, sadness, irony, anger, indignation, etc.

q The tempo of speech is the speed with which sentences or their parts are pronounced. It is determined by the rate at which speech-sounds are uttered and by the number and length of pauses.

Closely connected with the tempo of speech is its rhythm: the recurrence of stressed syllables at more or less equal intervals of time.

  • Therefore, the tempo and rhythm of speech may be said to constitute the temporal component of intonation.


(4) Kinds of intonation

• For practical purposes intonation is divided into so-called emphatic and unemphatic.

• Sentences pronounced with unemphatic intonation are less emotional, no words are made specially prominent in them, all the words of any importance are more or less equally stressed and there are only slight changes in tempo and tamber.


(5) Unity of components of intonation

• The components of intonation form a unity because they always function all together, and none of them can be separated from any of the others.

• Especially close is the connection between speech melody and sentence-stress, which are the most important and the most thoroughly investigated components of English intonation.


(6) Method of indicating intonation

• The pitch and prominence of syllables in a sentence are denoted in the following way.

• A dash (-) represents a stressed syllable pronounced with level pitch.

• A downward curve (١) represents a stressed syllable pronounced with a fall in pitch within that syllable.

• An upward curve (ر ) represents a stressed syllable pronounced with a rise in pitch within that syllable.

• A dot (∙) represents an unstressed syllable.

(7) Method of indicating intonation-2

• These signs are written between two horizontal lines which represent the approximate upper and lower limits of the pitch of the voice in speech, or the range of the voice, and thus show the contour of intonation.

• The tonetic transcription shows variations in the pitch of the voice rather approximately. It does not indicate the exact pitch and the range of the voice, and it does not denote the tempo, rhythm and tamber of speech.

(8) The temporal component of intonation and its indication

q The temporal component of intonation can be indicated graphically only as far as pauses are concerned.

• Two vertical strokes (ǁ) denote a long pause, which usually occurs at the end of a sentence.

• A single vertical stroke (|) denotes a short pause inside a sentence.

• A vertical wavy line ( ) denotes a pause that is extremely short, imperceptible, or even actually absent, but possible and therefore non-obligatory.


(9) Pitches of stressed and unstressed syllables

Each stressed and unstressed syllable in a sentence has a definite pitch.

Thus, in unemphatic English speech the first stressed syllable in a sentence is usually pronounced on the highest pitch as compared with the other syllables of the same sentence.

The last stressed syllable is pronounced with a fall, if the sentence requires the use of the falling tone (as in a command) or with a rise, if the sentence requires the use of the rising tone (as in a request). E.g.

Sit down.

(a command) [‘sit ↘daun]

(a request) [‘sit ↗daun]


(10) The picture of intonation

• The stressed and unstressed syllables form a gradually descending scale until the last stressed syllable is reached. In this case the intervals in pitch and time between the stressed syllables are more or less equal, e.g.

Come in and sit down. (a command) [‘kʌm ‘in әnd ‘sit ↘daun]

May I come in and sit down? (a request) [‘mei ai ‘kʌm ‘in әnd ‘sit ↗daun]


(11) Intonation turns a word or a combination of words into a sentence

12.01. The crucial factor that turns a word or a combination of words into a sentence is intonation. E.g. “go” is a vocabulary item, but “Go!” is a one-word imperative sentence.

q Intonation coupled with the proper choice of words and grammatical structure is the main constituent feature of the sentence.

q So, the basic function of intonation is the sentence-constitutive one.

q Since intonation is thus a sentence-constitutive element in the language, it is not only a phonetic, but also a grammatical, i.e. syntactic, means of expression, because the syntax of a language is the combination of all its means of putting its words together into sentences.

Date: 2016-01-03; view: 1625

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The Middle English Morphology | Intonation in a written language
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