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Intonation.  Просмотрен 117

Intonation is a language universal. There are no languages which are spoken without any change of prosodic parameters but intonation functions in various languages in a different way.

There are two main approaches to the problem of intonation in Great Britain. One is known as acontour analysis and the other may be called grammatical.

The first is represented by a large group of phoneticians: H. Sweet, D. Jones, G. Palmer, L. Armstrong, I. Ward, R. Kingdon, J. O'Connor, A. Gimson and others. It is traditional and widely used. According to this approach the smallest unit to which linguistic meaning can beattached is a tone-group (sense-group). Their theory is based on the assumption that intonation consists of basic functional "blocks". They pay much attention to these "blocks" but not to the way they are connected. Intonation is treated by them as a layer that is superimposed on the lexico-grammatical structure. In fact the aim of communication determines the intonation structure, not vice versa.

The grammatical approach to the study of intonation was worked out by M. Halliday. The main unit of intonation is a clause. Intonation is a complex of three systemic variables: tonality, tonicity and tone, which are connected with grammatical categories. Tonality marks the beginning and the end of a tone-group. Tonicity marks the focal point of each tone-group. Tone is the third unit in Halliday's system. Tones can be primary and secondary. They convey the attitude of the speaker. Hallyday's theory is based on the syntactical function of intonation.

There is wide agreement among Russian linguists that on perception level intonation is a complex, a whole, formed by significant variations of pitch, loudness and tempo closely related. Some Russian linguists regard speech timbre as the fourth component of intonation. Neither its material form nor its linguistic function has been thoroughly described. Though speech timbre definitely conveys certain shades of attitudinal or emotional meaning there is no good reason to consider it alongside with the three prosodic components of intonation, i.e. pitch, loudness and tempo.

D. Crystal distinguishes the following functions of intonation.

• Emotional function's most obvious role is to express attitudinal meaning -sarcasm, surprise, reserve, impatience, delight, shock, anger, interest, and thousands of other semantic nuances.

• Grammatical function helps to identify grammatical structure in speech, performing a role similar to punctuation. Units such as clause and sentence often depend on intonation for their spoken identity, and several specific contrasts, such as question/statement, make systematic use of it.

• Informational function helps draw attention to what meaning is given and what is new in an utterance. The word carrying the most prominent tone in a contour signals the part of an utterance that the speaker is treating as new information.

• Textual function helps larger units of meaning than the sentence to contrast and cohere. In radio news-reading, paragraphs of information can be shaped through the use of pitch. In sports commentary, changes in prosody reflect the progress of the action.

• Psychological function helps us to organize speech into units that are easier to perceive and memorize. Most people would find a sequence of numbers, for example, difficult to recall. The task is made easier by using intonation to chunk the sequence into two units.

• Indexical function, along with other prosodic features, is an important marker of personal or social identity. Lawyers, preachers, newscasters, sports commentators, army sergeants, and several other occupations are readily identified through their distinctive prosody.

Intonation is present in every sentence and sometimes how we say something is more important than what we say. “Intonation is the soul of a language, while the pronunciation of its sounds is its body, and the recording of it in writing and printing gives a very imperfect picture of the body and hardly hints at the existence of a soul.”

Intonation is present in .every sentence and in written sentences it manifests itself in the punctuation marks.

Intonation is present not only in written and oral speech, but in "inner" speech as well. This is proved by the thesis of Marx, Engels and Lenin about the sound nature of language, which developed with "the de­velopment of the brain and its attendant senses, of the increasing clari­ty of consciousness, power of abstraction and of judgment".


Different authors define intonation differently. Soviet phoneticians (V. A. Vassilyev, G. P. Torsuyev, E. Y. Antipova and others) state, that intonation is a complex unity of (1) speech melody, or pitch of the voice, (2) word stress, (3) rhythm, (4) voice timber, (5) pausation and tempo (rate)_

Most foreign authors consider intonation as pitch variations only. However they underline the inseparable connection of intonation and stress, but ignore other important components of intonation.

V. A. Vassilyev suggests that the term "intonation" can be viewed (1) in the narrow sense (pitch variations, speech melody) and (2) in the broad sense (a complex unity of all its components). In the latter case the term "intonation" should be replaced by the term "prosodation"; in this case it is to be analyzed on the suprasegmental level.

Methods of indicating intonation are different, but the traditional way of representing intonation is by tonograms. Two horizontal lines show graphically the upper and lower limits of the voice pitch. Dashes rep­resent stressed syllables, dots represent unstressed syllables. Downward and upward curves represent the fall and the rise in the voice pitch. Vertical bars represent pauses: a single vertical bar — a short pause, a double vertical bar —a long pause, a wavy vertical line — a very short pause.

There are other means of indicating intonation: wedge – like symbols, dots with an upward or downward glides to them, a numerical system, but the system of tonetic stress marks is gaining popularity be­cause it is simple both to read and to print and, besides, stress-tone notations help to attract the attention of a learner to the text proper.

Intonation includes: rhythm, pausation and timber, tempo.

Rhythm is regular alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables. It is so typical of an English phrase that the incorrect use of rhythm betrays the non-English origin of a speaker. Sense groups in the sentence are divided into rhythmic groups. They consist of stressed and unstressed syllables. Unstressed syllables are pronounced quickly.

Pausation is closely connected with the other components of the intonation. The timber may express the attitude of the speaker to what he says. It depends on the physiological properties of the speaker.

The temporal component of the intonation is the rate of speech, it is closely connected with rhythm.

Lecture #5 Variation of English pronunciation

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