Global rise Global fall
IPA number 510 511 Encoding Entity (decimal) ↗ ↘ Unicode (hex) U+2197 U+2198
In linguistics, intonation is variation of spoken pitch that is not used to distinguish words; instead it is used for a range of functions such as indicating the attitudes and emotions of the speaker, signalling the difference between statement and question, and between different types of question, focussing attention on important elements of the spoken message and also helping to regulate conversational interaction. It contrasts with tone, in which pitch variation in some languages does distinguish words, either lexically or grammatically. (The term tone is used by some British writers in their descriptions of intonation, but this is to refer to the pitch movement found on the nucleus or tonic syllable in an intonation unit – see Intonation in English: British Analyses of English Intonation, below). Although intonation is primarily a matter of pitch variation, it is important to be aware that functions attributed to intonation such as the expression of attitudes and emotions, or highlighting aspects of grammatical structure, almost always involve concomitant variation in other prosodic features. Crystal for example says that "...intonation is not a single system of contours and levels, but the product of the interaction of features from different prosodic systems – tone, pitch-range, loudness, rhythmicality and tempo in particular."
Transcription of intonation
Most transcription conventions have been devised for describing one particular accent or language, and the specific conventions therefore need to be explained in the context of what is being described. However, for general purposes the International Phonetic Alphabet offers the two intonation marks shown in the box at the head of this article. Global rising and falling intonation are marked with a diagonal arrow rising left-to-right [↗] and falling left-to-right [↘], respectively. These may be written as part of a syllable, or separated with a space when they have a broader scope: He found it on the street? [ hiː ˈfaʊnd ɪt | ɒn ðə ↗ˈˈstɹiːt ‖ ] Here the rising pitch on street indicates that the question hinges on that word, on where he found it, not whether he found it. Yes, he found it on the street. [↘ˈjɛs ‖ hi ˈfaʊnd ɪt | ɒn ðə ↘ˈstɹiːt ‖ ]
Intonation (linguistics) How did you ever escape? [↗ˈˈhaʊ dɪdjuː | ˈɛvɚ | ə↘ˈˈskeɪp ‖ ] Here, as is common with wh- questions, there is a rising intonation on the question word, and a falling intonation at the end of the question. In many descriptions of English, the following intonation patterns are distinguished: • • • • Rising Intonation means the pitch of the voice rises over time [↗]; Falling Intonation means that the pitch falls with time [↘]; Dipping or Fall-rise Intonation falls and then rises [↘↗]; Peaking or Rise-fall Intonation rises and then falls [↗↘].
Functions of Intonation
All vocal languages use pitch pragmatically in intonation — for instance for emphasis, to convey surprise or irony, or to pose a question. Tonal languages such as Chinese and Hausa use intonation in addition to using pitch for distinguishing words. Many writers have attempted to produce a list of distinct functions of intonation. Perhaps the longest was that of W.R.Lee who proposed ten. J.C. Wells and E.Couper-Kuhlen ) both put forward six functions. Wells's list is given below; the examples are not his: • attitudinal function (for expressing emotions and attitudes) example: a fall from a high pitch on the 'mor' syllable of "good morning" suggests more excitement than a fall from a low pitch • grammatical function (to identify grammatical structure) example: it is claimed that in English a falling pitch movement is associated with statements, but a rising pitch turns a statement into a yes–no question, as in He's going ↗home?. This use of...
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