Lecture 10- English Intonation (d)

August 7, 2017 | Author: Walid English | Category: Stress (Linguistics), English Language, Sentence (Linguistics), Language Mechanics, Phonology
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English Intonation Patterns...


Teacher: Mr.Aounali. W

Phonetics________________2nd Year LMD

Lecture 9:

English Intonation Patterns

Introduction: Sentence stress and intonation are interrelated, wherein intonation organizes words into sentences,

distinguishes between different types of sentences, and adds emotional coloring to utterances. English intonation is quite difficult for EFL learners. Yet, developing the ability to understand and reproduce sentence stress and intonation is a necessity to be fluent in English language.

1. What is intonation? Tone differences or pitch changes are used in English language to mark off larger phonological and grammatical units (suprasegmentals) such as phrases and clauses, and to distinguish between different types of such units rather than the word (segmentals) syllables. The variations in pitch (tone) mainly do not affect the lexical meaning of the utterances, but convey other types of information such as questioning, anger, affection, politeness, anger, etc. For a concrete example consider the difference between: You're You're

going. (statement) going ? (question)

2. Graphic Representation of Tones: There are four simple moving tones in English according to the behavior of the speaker: The Low Fall

The pitch of the voice falls from a medium to a very low level E.g.: How are

The High Fall

The Low Rise

The High Rise

you. (Statement)

The pitch of the voice falls from a high to a medium level E.g.: Peter: How many shoes in a pair? John: Two The pitch of the voice rises from a very low to a medium level E.g.: Isn't he nice? Yes No The pitch of the voice rises from a medium to a high level E.g.: She passed her driving test. She passed? (disbelief)

In complex moving tones, there is a change of the pitch movement as follows: The Fall-Rise

The pitch of the voice first falls from a high to a low pitch, and then, still with the sentence, rises to a medium pitch. E.g.: A quick tour of the city.Would be NICE.(dependency)

The Rise-Fall

The pitch of the voice rises first from a low to a high pitch, and then, still within the sentence, falls to a low pitch. E.g.: Will you come with me. Yes, of course. (showing enthusiasm & agreement)


Page 1 of 4

Teacher: Mr.Aounali. W

Phonetics________________2nd Year LMD

3. The Functions of English Tones: English speakers produce melodies of different kinds with the voice rising and falling in order to convey several emotions, feelings, and attitudes or even his mood. The main functions are:

1. The attitudinal function: Intonation enables the speaker to express emotions and attitudes, anger, boredom, and this adds a special kind of meaning to spoken language. E.g.:1. Stop

talking (anger).

2. It can be true (doubt).

3. It’s

impossible (surprise).

2. The accentual function: Intonation helps to produce the effect of prominence on the syllables that need to be perceived as stressed, and in particular, the placement of tonic stress on a particular syllable marks the most important word in the utterance. i.e: the focus word. E.g.: Paul is very


Paul is very

tall. (Paul and not another one)

3. The grammatical function: the listener is better able to recognise the grammar and syntax of what is being said using the information enclosed in intonation. For instance, the difference between questions & statements and the use of grammatical subordination. E.g.: She

dressed/ and

fed the

baby. ( She dressed herself and then fed the baby)

4. The discourse function: we can see that intonation can indicate to the hearer what is the “new information” and what is the “given/old information” which represents shared knowledge between the speaker & the hearer. In can also convey to the expected response. E.g.: My name is



Bond. (new is accented )

3.1. The Attitudinal Function of Falling Tones: We will now move on to look at the attitudinal function of the falling tones in English: 3.1.1. The high-fall:

The High-Fall tone generally indicates finality and completeness, and the speaker has delivered a complete message; the speaker does not show an intention to continue speaking.  Statement: We are leaving.  Replies to questions: I think it’s next Monday.  Commands/ orders: if the speaker expects the hearer to perform the command Please, close the window. Stop that machine.

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Teacher: Mr.Aounali. W

Phonetics________________2nd Year LMD 3.1.2. THE LOW-FALL:

The Low-Fall tone can be expected as “almost finality”. This tone differs from the high-fall in probability and abrupt termination on the part of the speaker. The impression of abruptness, impatience, and lack of concern, is shown by the speaker in conversation. A: Do you like Shakespeare? B:



Speaker B seems uninterested.

3.1.3. the rise-fall:

The Rise-Fall tone adds emphasis to what would be communicated by the High-Fall tone speaker. It usually denotes strong feelings and emotions. 1. I

like it.

2. She’s



3. He studied at


3.2. The Attitudinal Function of Rising Tones: This time, we will tackle the attitudinal function of the rising tones in English: 3.2.1. the high-rise:

The High-Rise tone is the opposite of the High-Fall: it is non-final, not conclusive.  In a statement: when the message is uncommon or contradicts what was said before. 1.He’s learning Chinese! (it’s incredible!) 2.He’s a mechanic? (Not an engineer as you said)  To ask for a repetition of what was said before, because the hearer hasn’t heard properly or he can’t believe what he has heard. Expressing strong surprise. 1. Can I have some beef


2. A: Where are you spending your

The waiter answers:

What? (Restaurant is vegetarian)

holiday? B:Probably in Bra zil. A:Where did you say?

 Yes-no questions, this sort of questions do not begin with a question word like (how, why) 1. Are you


2. Won’t you come a long with us?

3.2.2. the low-rise:

The Low-Rise tone can be a call for attention or a signal that the speaker is listening and expects the conversation to go on. Low-rise tone could be taken as showing of interest. 1.A: Ex

cuse me. (wishing to attract B’s attention) B:

Yes (B’s interested and reply go on)

2. A: Do you know John Smith? B: Yes (B replies with low-rise tone to invite A to continue with what he intends to say about John Smith after establishing that B knows him) 3. A: You start from the King’s Cross… B: Yes. (B’s inviting A to continue giving the directions) A: Turn left at the first roundabout… B: Yes (encouraging A to continue the conversation) A: and you’ll find the office on the third floor. Page 3 of 4

Teacher: Mr.Aounali. W

Phonetics________________2nd Year LMD 3.2.3. the fall-rise:

The Fall-Rise tone can be just a variation of the high-rise tone, another way of asking a Yes/No question or signaling that the statement is unusual. The fall-rise is used to convey a limited agreement or response with reservations and hesitation. It states something that implies that more can be said about the subject. 1. A: I’ve heard that it’s a good school. B: Yes. (B do not agree with A, and A wants explanation why he is reluctant to agree) 2. A: It’s not really an expensive car, is it? B: No. (B’s reply indicates that he has some reservation and doubt)  Frequently, the fall-rise tone connects what the speaker is saying with what has just been said and limits the remark to one part of the topic. 1. A: Do you like sports? B: I love skating. 2. A: Would you like some fish and barbecue? B: I’d like some fish. (I accept fish but I refuse the barbecue)  The fall-rise tone is also used to express warnings, advice, or to sound reassuring. 1. Be

Don’t come back




It won’t be



4. Intonation with Yes/No questions:  A high-rising tone or pitch sequence often indicates a yes-no question. 1. Is John from Los


2. Was it


 When in a Yes/No question there is a choice between two items, the first item takes a high-rise whereas the last item has a high-fall tone. 1. Did you come by bike, or did you come on


2. Is it

Turkish or


 Wh-questions (who, what, how) are generally pronounced with a falling tone (high-fall): Where is my pencil?

Who told you


How did you spend your


 In tag questions, the tone is going down because the speaker expects agreement. So high-fall tone is used a lot in tags to create agreement and rapport between the speakers. 1. He couldn't

cook, could he?

2. They would like sugar,

wouldn't they?

Sometimes in tags the tone goes up. This means the speaker is not sure if the information is correct and is asking the listener to check it. Therefore, a high-side tone is used. A: The football match was on Thursday,

wasn’t it?


No, it was on Tuesday. Page 4 of 4

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