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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



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






(I accept this.)

High Rise







(I don’t accept this.)

Low Rise






(I’m listening.)

Fall - Rise uncertain

O Y,


(But I’m doubtful.)

Rise - Fall

With commitment/








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 heshe 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).



H a

ar 1

(a) I'm going to vard, not 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):






(c) you already, du


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



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



Non-public For-mal Infor-mal
Informational style - + + + + + + + + -
Academic style + + + + + + + + + +
Declamatory style + + + + + + + - + -
Publicistic style + + + + + + + + + -
Familiar style + - + + - + - + - +

Conversational (familiar) - this kind of English is a means for everyday communication, heard in natural conversational interaction between speakers. This style occurs mainly in informal external and internal relationships in speech of relatives, friends, well - acquainted people and so on. So this is spontaneous, colloquial, informal, everyday speech.

Informational - in press reporting, educational descriptive texts. May be represented in monologues, dialogues, polylogues.

Phonostylistic characteristics: Loudness normal or increased; pauses are rather long; rhythm is stable, properly organized; falling tones on the semantic centres, falling- rising in the initial intonation groups

The following example illustrates the use of this intonation pattern in the speech of a radio announcer during news coverage:

ANNOUNCER: … Early `yesterday MORNING the engine `depot at ROUEN was the target of `SABOTEURS.

 || The heavy-MA CHINE shops were totally GUTTED | and e leven `LOCO`MOTIVES | com pletely `DES TROYED.

Booth. «The Sky is Overcast»)

Academic (scientific) - style of lectures (conferences, seminars). The purpose of communication as the speaker’s aim is to attract the listener’s attention, to establish close contacts with the audience and to direct the public attention to the message carried in the contents of the text.

Phonostylistic characteristics: Loudness increased; pauses are rather long; rhythm is properly organized; high proportion of compound terminal tones (high fall + low rise, fall – rise, rise-fall-rise), a great number of high categoric falls.


The various MEANINGS may be classified under two `general HEADS | - the optative SUB JUNCTIVE and the PO` TENTIAL sub junctive. || The `OPTATIVE sub junktive

repre sents `something as DE SIRED, DE` MANDED, or RE`QUIRED (by a person or by CIRCUMSTANCES). || The PO`TENTIAL sub jenctive marks `something as a mere con`caption of the `MIND, but at the same time repre` sents it as something that may PROBABLY or POSSIB LY `BE or BE` COME a reality or on the `OTHER handes as SOMETHING that is contrary to `FACT. ||

(G. O. Curme «A Grammar of the English Language»)

Oratorial - this term serves for many kinds of oratorial activities (especially this style uses in political speeches).

Phonostylistic characteristics: Loudness enormously increased; pauses are definitely long between the passages; rhythm is properly organized; tones mostly emphatic, especially emotionally underlined semantic centres, in non-final intonational groups falling-rising tones are frequent


You can’t have in`formed O`PINION on this `VITAL MATTER with out being kept `VERY much up to DATE with the LATEST FACTS of DE FENCE. Now what IS WRONG with a coa lition GOVERNMENT in time of CRISIS, | but the dreadful `PART of a coa lition government, you KNOW, is that to keep it A LIVE you have to go in for `one, COMPROMISE after A NOTHER.

(D. Crystal and D. Davy «Investigating English Style»)

Declamatory (artistic)- this is the style of declamation. This is a highly emotional and expressive intonational style, that is why it needs special training. This style can be heard on the stage, on the screen, in a TV studio, thus we see that it is always a written form of the language read aloud or recited.

Phonostylistic characteristics: Loudness varied according to the size of the audience and to the emotional setting; pauses are long especially between the passages, prolonged emphatic pauses are used to underline the emphasis; rhythm is properly organized; common use of categoric low and high falls in final and initial intination groups and on semantic centres


The door of the `dining-room was OPEN the gas `turned LOW; | a SPIRIT-urn `hissed on a TEA-tray, and CLOSE to it a cynical- `looking CAT had fallen A SLEEP on the DINING-table. || Old `Jolyon ``shoo`d` her `OFF at once.`` ||

The Comparative Analysis of the Intonation of Basic Positive Emotions in English and Russian Spontaneous Speech

The second part of the 20th century has been marked by special attention to the investigation of intonational variation expressing emotions in speech. Being an indispensable component of oral communication, intonation with other linguistic and extra linguistic means serves to distinguish the communicative types of utterances, to identify the speaker and to convey his attitude to the surrounding reality.

Studies of the prosody of emotions are not numerous, though a growing interest in this area is pointed out. There is still no exhaustive definition of the notion emotion; nevertheless in 80s a great input into the theory of emotions was made by C.Izard.

The material for the investigation was samples of authentic English and Russian emotional spontaneous speech, namely recordings of TV programs, interviews, free talks, situations where people interact in a way that appears spontaneous. We consider it relevant to study the prosody of emotions expressed in eye-to-eye, informal communication, as this is where human attitudes reveal most explicitly.

In the analyzed material 64 spontaneous utterances (32 in English and 32 in Russian) rendering the emotional states of surprise, interest and joy were chosen. The recordings of the three emotions were studied in an intonogram. The focus of the investigation was made on such prosodic parameters, as pitch level, pitch range and intensity level. Intonation was also estimated from the point of view of direction of the F0, whether it is steady, upward or downward.

The results of the contrastive acoustic analysis show, that all the emotions under analysis are characterized by high pitch level both in Russian and English speech.


The differences in English and Russian intonation are traced in the direction of the terminal tone and the type of the scale: while in English utterances expressing interest are pronounced with the descending stepping scale and downward nucleus, Russian utterances are marked by the rising nucleus.


Besides high pitch level utterances expressing surprise are pronounced with two types of terminal tones- the falling or the rising-falling tones; the percentage of using these tones, both in English and in Russian, is comparatively equal. The major difference in the prosody of surprise in English and Russian spontaneous utterances is the amplitude of intensity, which is smaller in English. The pitch range of the basic emotion of surprise in English is predominantly narrow, while in Russian it is either narrow or wide.


The intensity of Russian utterances with the attitude of joy is higher than that of English utterances.

The aim of the final stage of the experiment was to examine the ability of Russian auditors to recognize an emotion expressed in English utterances.

In the course of the auditory analysis 30 Russians, who don’t master English, had to listen to 32 emotionally charged spontaneous phrases (13 utterances with the emotional component of interest, 13- with the emotional component of surprise, and 6- with the charge of joy) and to say which attitude of the three was expressed in each phrase. Thus, Russian listeners had to judge the emotional meaning of utterances pronounced by English native speakers relying on the so-called “pure intonation” when the listeners are not able to percept the lexical meaning of the phrases

The results of the final stage of the experiment show, that on average the adequate recognition of joy by Russian speaking people is 65%, the recognition of surprise- 31,4% and of interest- 51,2%. The overall average recognition of emotional meaning in English spontaneous utterances by Russians is 45,7%, which is rather high percentage, if Russian speaking listeners recognize emotions in Russian phrases with the average level of perception equal to 70%.

The comparative analysis of the intonation of basic positive emotions shows that similar features in the prosody of interest, surprise and joy are present in English and Russian, though the specific variations of intonation characteristic of a language prevail.

What can we conclude about the use of intonation in a language like English? Perhaps the best way to look at the subject is to see intonation as an essential component of the discourse structure of speech. We speak in order to communicate, and we need to interact with our listeners to do this. 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.

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