Интонация

Работу подготовила Леонова Наталья

РГГУ, кафедра теоретической и прикладной лингвистики

Москва, 2005 г.

Intonation is the music of the language. In English, we use tone to signal emotion, questioning, and parts of the sentence among many other things. It's important to recognize the meaning behind the tones used in everyday speech, and to be able to use them so that there are no misunderstandings between the speaker and the listener. It is generally true that mistakes in pronunciation of sounds can be overlooked, but mistakes in intonation make a lasting impression.

Intonation has always been a difficult thing to define. According to traditional descriptions, intonation is «the melody of speech», and is to be analysed in terms of variations in pitch. Intonation is said to indicate the attitudes and emotions of the speaker, so that a sentence like 'I think it's time to go now' can be said in a happy way, a sad way, an angry way, and so on. While this is certainly true, there is clearly more than just pitch variation involved in conveying such things, so the definition of intonation becomes considerably more complicated. It is clear that when we are expressing emotions, we also use different voice qualities, different speaking rates, facial expressions, gestures, and so on. We must indicate what type of information tye are presenting and how it is structured, and at the same time we must keep our listeners' attention and their participation in the exchange of information. Communicative interaction would be much more difficult without intonation: think how many misunderstandings between people arise in the exchange of e-mail messages, where intonation cannot play a role.

In In English, as in many other languages, pitch is an important component of accentuation, or prominence, both at the level of individual words and at the level of longer utterances. In general, we distinguish between pitches which are relatively steady-state, i.e. which do not change level perceptibly, and those which change by stepping or sliding up or down to another pitch level, as illustrated in the figure below. English intonation characteristically slides or transitions gradually from one pitch level to the next rather than stepping up or down abruptly from one pitch level to the next. Thus, English intonation is best represented by "humps" and "waves" rather than by "angles" and "steps".

Sliding contour Stepping contour



If we look at a typical example, we would expect a falling pitch pattern on a statement like this:

You are from London



but a rising pitch pattern if the same words are used as a question:

You are from London?



Other examples of meaning being changed by differences in intonation are - the difference between

She won`t go out with anyone



and

She won`t go out with anyone



Is the first one (with a falling movement on «any») says that she will go out with nobody, while the second (with a falling-rising pitch movement) says that she is careful about who she goes with.

The pitch of the voice is determined by the frequency with which the vocal cords vibrate., The frequency of vibration of the vocal cords is in turn determined by their thickness their length and their tension. The modal pitch of the voice, i.e. one's natural average pitch level, depends on the size of the vocal cords. In general, men have thicker and longer vocal cords than women and children do. As a result, the modal pitch of a man's voice is generally lower than that of a woman or a child.

In addition to its modal pitch, every individual voice has a pitch range which can be achieved by adjustments of the vocal cords.

By tightening the vocal cords, a person can raise the pitch of the voice (vocal pitch); by loosening them, one can lower vocal pitch.

There is also a natural variation in pitch associated with the amount of air that is expended during speech. When the airflow through the glottis is great, it causes the vocal cords to vibrate quickly. As airflow is reduced, the effect on the vocal cords is diminished, and the frequency of vibration decreases. Although it is possible to override these natural effects - e.g. by changing the tension of the vocal folds - in the unmarked case, the pitch of the voice will descend naturally over an utterance as the speaker's breath is used up. This effect is called downdrift.

As a result of downdrift, there is a natural iconic association of falling pitch with finality and related meanings such as assurance or defini-tiveness. Conversely, there is a natural association of non-falling (steady-state or rising) pitch with non-finality and related meanings such as lack of assurance or non-definitiveness. The difference between falling and non-falling or rising intonation is represented by Cruttenden (1981) as that between "closed" (assertive) and "open" (non-assertive) meaning.

Individual words or phrases may in some cases constitute an entire utterance in natural speech, as can be seen in the different intonation contours for okay in figure.


Contour

Meaning

Example


Fall


Neutral

O

K

A

Y.

(I accept this.)


High Rise


Contradictory/

unbelieving

Y?

A

K

O

(I don’t accept this.)


Low Rise


Non-committal/

unfinished

KAY…

O

(I’m listening.)


Fall - Rise


uncertain

O Y,

KA

(But I’m doubtful.)



Rise - Fall


With commitment/

definite/

emphatic

KA

O

Y!

(Definitely.)


The two compound patterns combine the meanings of falling and rising intonation in interesting iconic meanings. The fall-rise pattern has the meaning of both, i.e. both closed and open meaning. This signifies both definiteness and indefiniteness simultaneously, in the sense that a referent is instantiated but the utterance is not yet completed or in the sense that the speaker feels some hesitancy, reservation, doubt or uncertainty. The rise-fall pattern incorporates the fall of completion or assurance of the first pattern with the emotional overtone of a high pitch in the middle of the utterance. This is a so-called swell tone used for emphatic meaning: as the tone swells, the meaning or emphasis increases.

Brazil, Coulthard and Johns (1980) point out the importance of relative pitch, in a discourse context, e.g. for indicating affect or emotion. Most importantly, relative pitch of an utterance shows the speaker's attitude toward the information that he\she is conveying. The neutral, unmarked, mid relative pitch - which is the speaker's modal pitch - is used to make a statement in a neutral manner. In contrast, high relative pitch indicates an informational contrast, as shown in example (a). Because high key implies a contrast even when one is not explicitly present in the discourse, it can be used to single out individual words for special attention, as in example (b).

Y

H a

ar 1

(a) I'm going to vard, not e !!!

n

e

v t t.

(b) I'd er do ha

Low key is used when the speaker wants to assert that two items in successive tone units are in some sense equivalent, as in (c):

T

O

I L

D

(c) you already, du

mmy.

Here the low key on dummy signals that it is to be interpreted as confer-ential to you.

In some varieties of English, e.g. those spoken in Ireland, Liverpool and Hawaii, the terminal high rise in yes/no questions is replaced by an earlier rise, with high pitch maintained until the tonic word or phrase, followed by a fall as in


Ireland: Would you like some tea?


Liverpool: Did you go to the new supermarket?


Hawaii: 1) You need a general catalog?

You get one book?

In Hawaniian English, question tags comprising yea with high rising pitch are frequent/ In Welsh English, question tags are emphasized by a swell-tone (rise-fall patern) on the tag, which makes it more definite or emphatic.

Stylistic use of intonation


Speech

typology

Intonational style



Varieties of language



Forms of communication



Degree of speech preparedness


The number of participants



The character of participants` relationship



Spoken



Written



Monoloqoue



Dialoque



Prepared



Spontaneous



Pub

lic



Non-public



For-mal



Infor-mal


Informational style


-


+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

-

Academic style


+

+

+


+


+

+

+

+


+

+


Declamatory style

+

+

+

+

+

+

+

-

+

-

Publicistic style


+


+

+

+

+

+

+

+

+


-

Familiar style


+

-


+

+

-

+

-

+


-

+


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