1. Chapter II. melody as the main component of intonation
  2. Historical method basics
  3. Intonation
  4. Intonation of the English language
  5. Intonation pattern
  6. Methods and tools
  7. New trends in English intonation
  8. New trends in English intonation


Intonation is a complex unity of variations in pitch, stress, tempo and timbre. The pitchcomponent of intonation, or melody, is the changes in the pitch of the voice in connected speech. Sentence stress, or accent,is the greater prominence of one or more words among other words in the same sentence. Tempo is the relative speed with which sentences and intonation groups are pronounced in connected speech. Speech timbreis a special colouring of voice, which shows the speaker's emotions, i.e. pleasure, displeasure, sorrow, etc. Intonation serves to form sentences and intonation-groups, to define their communicative type, to express the speaker's thoughts, to convey the attitudinal meaning. One and the same grammatical structure and lexical composition of the sentence may express different meaning when pronounced with different intonation.

e.g. "'Isn't it ridiculous? (general question) "'Isn't it ridiculous! (exclamation)

Long sentences, simple extended, compound and complex, are subdivided into intonation - groups. Intonation-group division depends on the meaning of the sentence, the grammatical structure of the utterance and the style of speech. Each intonation-group is characterized by a definite intonation pattern. The number of intonation-groups in the same sentence may be different. e.g. In June, July and August our children 'don't 'go to school. In June, July, and August our children 'don't 'go to school.

The end of each sentence is characterized by a relatively long pause. The pauses between intonation-groups are shorter, they vary in length. There may be no pauses between intonation-groups at all.

Each intonation-group is characterized by a certain intonation pattern, i.e. each syllable of an intonation-group has a certain pitch and bears a larger or smaller degree of prominence. There are three pitch levels: high, medium and low. Consequently, pitch levels are inseparably connected with stress. Intonation patterns consist of one or more syllables. Intonation patterns containing a number of syllables consist of the following parts: the pre-head, the head, the nucleus and the tail.

The pre-head includes unstressed and half-stressed syllables preceding the first stressed syllable. The pre-heads may be low and high. E.g. I don't want to go to the cinema. I don't want to go to the cinema.

The headincludes the stressed and unstressed syllables beginning with the first stressed syllable up to the last stressed syllable. Head patterns are classified into three major groups: descending, ascending and level. In descending heads the voice moves down from a medium or high pitch level to the low one. There are four types of descending heads: the Stepping, the Falling, the Scandent, the Sliding. In ascending heads the voice moves from a low pitch level to the medium or high. There are two ascending heads: the Rising, the Climbing.In level heads all the syllables are pronounced on the same note of a pitch level. There are three types of level heads: the High Level, the Medium Level, the Low Level.

The last stressed syllable is called the nucleus.There are eight nuclear tones in Modern English: the Low Fall, the Low Rise, the High Fall, the High Rise, the Fall-Rise, the Rise-Fall, the Rise-Fall-Rise, the Mid-Level.

The unstressed and half-stressed syllables that follow the nucleus are called the tail.

The nucleus is the most important part of the intonation pattern as it defines the communicative type of the sentence, determines the semantic value of the intonation-group, indicates the communicative centre of the intonation-group or of the whole sentence.

The communicative centreis associated with the most important word or words of the intonation-group or of the sentence. The nuclear tone of the final intonation-group is determined by the communicative type of the whole sentence.

The communicative types of sentences are differentiated in speech according to the aim of the utterance from the point of view of communication, i.e. in order to show if the sentence expresses a statement of fact, a question, a command or an exclamation. There are four communicative types of sentences:

1. Statements, e.g. I like music.

2. Questions,e.g. Can you prove it?

3. Imperative sentences or commands, e.g. Try it again.

4.Exclamations, e.g. Right you are!

The intonation pattern of the non-final intonation-group, mainly its nuclear tone, is determined by the semantic value of the intonation group and by its connection with the following one.

The falling nuclear tone shows that the non-final intonation-group is complete, important by itself and is not so closely connected with the following intonation-group.

A longer pause after an intonation-group pronounced with the falling tone makes the intonation-group even more significant. e.g. I'll tell him all I when he comes.

The rising nuclear tone shows that the non-final intonation-group is closely connected in meaning with the following intonation-group, is not important by itself and implies continuation. e.g. Generally speaking, I prefer tennis.

The intonation pattern is also modified by the speaker's attitude towards his utterance: e.g. Why? - detached, even unsympathetic Why? - wondering

Spoken English shows a marked contrast between its stressed and unstressed syllables. Words which bear the major part of information are generally stressed and are called content (or notional) words. These are: nouns, adjectives, notional verbs, adverbs, numerals, interrogative and demonstrative pronouns. The other words in a sentence are mostly form (or structura1) words: articles, prepositions, conjunctions, particles, auxiliary and modal verbs, personal and possessive pronouns. They are generally unstressed. But the strong forms of auxiliary and modal verbs, personal and possessive pronouns and form-words may be stressed when they are said in isolation, when they become the communicative centres of utterances.

e.g. What is he going to do? - do is the communicative centre. What is he going to do? - he is the communicative centre.


Unstressed syllables are represented by dots; stressed syllables are marked by dashes or curves. A dash represents a level tone. A downward curve represents the final fall. An upward curve represents the final rise.

Two parallel lines (staves) represent the upper and the lower limits of human voice or the range of the voice.

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

Two vertical bars denote a long pause, which usually occurs at the end of a sentence. A single vertical bar denotes a short pause inside a sentence.


: 2015-09-13; : 231;

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