Much has been said about the importance of paying due attention to intonation when studying a foreign language. The process of communication cannot be performed without intonation as it has its own functions in a sentence. These functions are: 1. The constitutive
2. The distinctive
(1) Intonation forms sentences. Each sentence consists of one or more intonation groups. An 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. You’ll come early | and stay as long as you can | won’t you || Sentences are separated from each other by pauses. The end of a sentence is always recognized by a long pause; the end of a non-final intonation group is usually characterized by a shorter pause. E. g. He’s passed his exam || He is a student now || Like most old people | he was fond of talking about old days || (2) Intonation also serves to distinguish the communicative types of sentences, the actual meaning of a sentence, the speaker’s emotions or attitudes to the contents of the sentence, to the listener or to the topic of conversation. E. g. He’s passed his exam ||
Low-Fall - a statement of fact
High-Rise - a question
Low-Rise – a question with surprise
High-Fall – an exclamation
One and the same sentence pronounced with different intonation can express different emotions. Intonation is also a powerful means of differentiating the functional styles.
2. The components of the intonation
1) Speech melody or the pitch.
The sentence possesses definite phonetic features: variations of pitch or speech melody, pauses, sentence stress, rhythm, tempo and timbre. Each feature performs a definite task and all of them work simultaneously. It is generally acknowledged that the pitch of the voice or speech melody, sentence stress and rhythm are the three main components of intonation, whilst pauses, tempo and timbre play a subordinate role in speech. The pitch of the voice does not stay on the same level while the sentence is pronounced. It falls and rises within the interval between its lower and upper limits. Three pitch levels are generally distinguished: high, medium and low.
The pitch of the voice rises and falls on the vowels and voiced consonants. These falls and rises form definite patterns typical of English and are called speech melody. Pitch Range is the interval between two pitch levels. It may be normal, wide and narrow.
E.g. I didn’t know you’ve been to London.
The use of this or that pitch (and range) shows the degree of its semantic importance. As a rule the low pitch level expresses little semantic weight, on the contrary the high pitch level is a sign of importance, stronger degree of feeling.
Rhythm is a regular recurrence of stressed and unstressed syllables at definite intervals. The characteristic features of English speech rhythm may be summed up as follows: 1. The regularity of the recurrence of stressed and unstressed syllables results in the pronunciation of each rhythmic group in a sense-group in the same period of time irrespective to the number of unstressed syllables in it. Which in its turn influences the length of sounds, especially vowels. 2. The alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables results in the influence of rhythm upon word-stress and sentence-stress. There are as many rhythmical groups in a sense-group as there are stressed syllables. Rhythmic groups can be of two types: ·enclitics – a rhythmic group in which an unstressed syllable clings to the preceding stressed syllable. ·proclitics – a rhythmic group in which an unstressed syllable clings to the following stressed syllable. To acquire a good English speech rhythm one should arrange sentences: 1) into intonation groups;
2) into rhythmic groups;
3) link the words beginning with a vowel to preceding words; 4) weaken unstressed words and syllables;