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Chapter II. melody as the main component of intonation

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Intonation is a complex unity of all sound means of a language.

Intonation which makes use of ordinary stresses and pitch ranges is called unemphatic.

emphaticis he kind of intonationwhich makes use of extra strong stresses and wide or narrow pitch ranges.

The information conveyed by a sentence is expressed not only by proper words and grammar structures, but also by intonation, which may be defined as such a unity of speech melody (change of the height of the tone),sentence-stress(intensity),rhythm(interchange of stressed and unstressed syllables), voice timbre(emotional colouring of voice),loudness(the volume of speech)andtempo of speech(the rate of delivery)which enables the speaker to express adequately the meaning of sentences, his attitude towards their contents and his emotions.

The main components of intonation are:

1.Speech melody (change of the height of the tone).

2.Sentence stress (greater degree of prominence given to a word or syllable).

3.Tempo (the rate of delivery).

4.Rhythm (regular recurrance of stressed and unstressed syllables).

5.Pausation (stop of phonation).

6.Voice timbre (emotional colouring of voice).

7.Loudness (volume of speech).


Intonation performs in the sentence the following functions:

The constitutive or sentence forming function.

The distinctive or sentence distinguishing function.

Sentence delimiting function.

Attitudinal function.

1. The constitutive or sentence forming function .Intonationorganizes words into utterances.

2. The distinctive function or sentence distinguishing function.. Intonation also serves to distinguish communicative types of sentences, the speaker's emotions or attitudes to the content of the sentence, to the listener or to the topic of the conversation. One and the same word sequence may express different meaning when pronounced with a different intonation pattern,

e.g. ˈDon't you ,know it? (general question)

ˈDon't you ֻ follow it! (exclamation)

3.Sentence delimiting function.Intonation delimits one intonation group / sense-

group / phonopassage from another by means of pauses.

4. Attitudinal function.Intonation expresses the speaker’s attitude towards what he says.

e.g. ˈDon't do ˛that. (serious)

‘Don’t ,do that. (appealing to the listener)


Chapter II. melody as the main component of intonation

In graphical representation of English intonation only two components of intonation are actually reflected – speech melody and sentence stress.


They are graphically denoted in the following way:

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

A dot (∙) represents an unstressed syllable.

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

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

These signs are written on the staves, i.e. between two horizontal (parallel) lines which represent the upper and lower limits of voice pitch or the range of the voice, and thus, show the contour of intonation and are called tonogram.

A tonogram may be represented in such a way:

∙ ∙ ―∙ ∙ ―∙ ∙ ―∙ ∙         ∙ ∙    

↑ ↑ ↑ ↑

Pre-Head Head Nucleus Tail

The temporal component of intonation can be indicated graphically only as far as pauses are concerned. Two vertical strokes ( || ) denote a long pause, which usually occurs at the end of a sentence. A single vertical stroke ( | ) denotes a short pauseinside a sentence. A vertical wavy line ( ξ ) denotes a pause that is extremely short.



Intonation group is a word or a group of words characterized by a certain intonation pattern and is generally complete from the point of view of meaning,

e.g. I canˈ book four ˈseats for ˈnext ˛Saturday (one intonation group ).

ˈIf you ,like ξ I can ˈbook four ˈseats for ˈnext ˛Saturday (two intonation groups).

If considered not only from the point of view of intonation, but also from semantic and grammatical view points, this unit is known as a sense - group .

Intonation pattern consists of one or more syllables of various pitch levels bearing a larger or smaller degree of prominence.

The intonation contour of an extended intonation group / syntagm consists of four functionally important parts: 1) the pre-head; 2) the head; 3) the nucleus; 4) the tail.  



Note: Syntagmis a graphical representation of an intonation-group.

The pre-head includes unstressed syllables preceding the head.

The head consists of the syllables beginning with the first stressed syllable up to the last

stressed syllable.

The nucleusisthe last stressed syllable.

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


Thus, in the example Then 'don't 'make so 'much ֻ fuss about it. “Then” is the pre-

head, “don't-make so much “is the head, “ֻ fuss” is the nucleus, “about it “is the tail.


The Pre-head is a series of introductory unstressed syllables.

According to their function pre-heads can be classed into:

1) emotionally – neutral (normal);

2) emotional.

Emotionally – neutral pre-heads are low level and mid level ones.


e.g. I shall ˈ be at ˈ home after ֻ four. Low level

e.g. → I shall ˈ be at ˈ home after ֻ four. Mid level


Emotional pre-heads may be high level, high ascending, high descending.


e.g. ¯ I shall ˈ be at ˈ home after ֻ four. High level

e.g. ’I shall ˈ be at ˈ home after ֻfour. High ascending

e.g. ‘I shall ˈ be at ˈ home after ֻ four. High descending.


The Head (Scale)

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