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  2. EXERCISES IN INTONATION............................................................ 144
  3. Functions of intonation.
  4. Give your own replies to the Verbal Context of Ex. 1 and 6. Use Intonation Pattern X.
  6. Listen to a fellow-student reading the replies. Tell him (her) what his (her) errors in intonation are.

Clearly, stress has linguistic importance and is therefore an aspect of the phonology of English that must be described, but it is not usually regarded as something that is related to individual segmental phonemes; normally, stress is said to be something that is applied to (or is a property of) syllables, and is therefore part of the suprasegmental phonology of English. Another part of suprasegmental phonology is intonation.

What is intonation?

Intonation can be defined as a unity of speech melody, timbre, utterance stress, temporal characteristics (duration, pausation, tempo) and rhythm.

ü Rhythm is a periodic recurrence of rhythmic units of different size and level.

ü Speech melody may be defined as the variations in the pitch of the voice in the connected speech.

ü Timbre (or voice quality) can be defined as a tonal colouring of the speaker's voice which helps to convey some meaning.

ü Utterance stress is the relative degree of prominence given to various words in an utterance.

ü Tempo can be defined as the speed of speaking.

ü Pause is a break between phonation pieces.


The notion of rhythm involves some noticeable event happening at regular intervals of time; one can detect the rhythm of a heart-beat, of a flashing light or of a piece of music.

It has often been claimed that English speech is rhythmical, and that the rhythm is detectable in the regular occurrence of stressed syllables; of course, it is not suggested that the timing is as regular as a clock - the regularity of occurrence is only relative.

The theory that English has stress-timed rhythm implies that stressed syllables will tend to occur at relatively regular intervals whether they are separated by unstressed syllables or not, and irrespective of the number of intervening unstressed syllables.

The theory also claims that while some languages (e.g. Russian, Arabic) have the stress-timed rhythm similar to that of English, others (such as French, Telugu and Yoruba) have a different rhythmical structure called syllable-timed rhythm; in these languages, all syllables, whether stressed or unstressed, tend to occur at regular time-intervals and the time between stressed syllables will be shorter or longer in proportion to the number of unstressed syllables.

It is widely claimed that English speech tends towards a regular alternation between stronger and weaker, and tends to adjust stress levels to bring this about. The effect is particularly noticeable in cases such as the following: com'pact (adj.) but 'compact 'disc.

An additional factor is that in speaking English we vary in how rhythmically we speak: sometimes we speak very rhythmically (this is typical of some styles of public speaking) while at other times we speak arhythmically - for example, when we are hesitant or nervous. One always speaks with some degree of rhythmicality, that varies between a minimum value (arhythmical) and a maximum (completely stress-time rhythm).

Check yourself:

1. What is intonation?

2. What does the notion of intonation involve?

3. Give the definitions to the components of intonation.

4. What is rhythm?

5. What is the difference between stress-timed rhythm and syllable-timed rhythm?

6. Characterize the rhythm of English.

7. Give your examples to illustrate that English speech tends towards a regular alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables.

8. Do we vary the rhythmicality of our speech? When and why?

Unit 2

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INTONATION AND ITS COMPONENTS. | The Tones | The transcription | B: // SORRy // (homework)// THURSday | SPEECH MELODY. ITS COMPONENTS | TYPES OF TONES (2). TYPES OF HEADS. | Lisa: Hello, Tony. Did you go for your interview yesterday? | Student A, Student B. | FALLING AND RISING TONES | Listen and read |

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