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Suprasegmental Phonology: Intonation, its main functions. In

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Vaiva Bernatonyte

on 16 October 2013

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Transcript of Suprasegmental Phonology: Intonation, its main functions. In

Suprasegmental Phonology:Intonation, its main functions. Intonational contours, their pragmatic value
The term suprasegmental was invented to refer to aspects of sound such as intonation that did not seem to be properties of individual segments (i.e. the vowels and consonants of which speech is composed).

General Characteristics of Intonation
The functions of intonation:
The term has tended to be used predominantly by American writers, and much British work has preferred to use the term prosodic instead.

There has never been full agreement about how many suprasegmental features are to be found in speech, but pitch, loudness, tempo, rhythm and stress are the most commonly mentioned ones.

Intonation can be referred to as a complex unit which includes several aspects of connected speech. Intonation includes:
Speech melody

Intonation is significant. Utterances may differ from each other in meaning. The same phrase can be said in reserved or a questioning tone of voice.

Intonation is systematic. There is a limited number of pitch patterns in any language, and we use them to produce definite meaningful effects.

Intonation is characteristic. The pitch patterns or tones of English are not necessarily the same in form as those of other languages, nor do they necessarily produce the same effect as they would in other languages, though there may be some resemblances. Therefore, the pitch patterns of any other language may sound wrong if they are applied to English, and give rise to difficulties in communication.

To show the speaker’s attitude
Split sentences into sense groups*
To stress the words
To show the grammatical aspect (the communicative aim of the sentence).

*Sense group is grammatically, semantically and intonationally independent unit marked by pauses. It is a word or a group of words forming the shortest possible unit in a sentence from the point of view of grammatical structure, meaning and intonation.

The main functions of intonation:
1. The grammatical function of intonation: it determines communicative types of sentences, and shows whether the sentence represents a statement, a question, a command.

2. The discourse function of intonation: it divides speech into utterances and utterances into sense groups.

4. The attitudinal function of intonation: it expresses the speaker’s mood, his/her attitude to the situation and to the listener.
3. The accentual function of intonation: it gives prominence to words and phrases.

D. Crystal distinguishes the following functions of intonation:

Emotional (Attitudinal). Intonation’s most obvious role is to express attitudinal meaning-sarcasm, surprise, reserve, impatience, delight, shock, anger, interest, and thousands of other semantic nuances.

Grammatical. Intonation 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. Intonation 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: I’ve got a new pen, I bought three books.

4. Textual. Intonation 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.

5. Psychological. Intonation helps us to organize speech into units that are easier to perceive and memorize. Most people would find a sequence of ten numbers (4738264815) difficult to recall; the task is made easier by using intonation to chunk the sequence into two units: 47382 / 64815

6. Indexical. Intonation, 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.
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