Tips on Intonation
ICTACT Youth Talk & ICTACT Youth PRESENT Contests 2014
APPLY BEFORE 25 JUL 2014 – WWW.ICTACTYOUTH.IN
Intonation is the pattern of the rising and falling of the voice in a structured pattern during
speaking. Intonation is the melody of the language.
The intonation system of English constitutes the most important and complex part of
English prosody. By combining different pitch levels (= unchanging pitch heights) and contours
(= sequences of levels, changing pitch shapes) we express a range of intonational meanings:
breaking the utterance into chunks, perhaps distinguishing between clause types (such as
statement vs. question), focusing on some parts of the utterance and not on others, indicating
which part of our message is background information and which is fore grounded, signaling our
attitude to what we are saying.
Types of Intonation
Rise and fall in intonation refers to the pitch in someone’s voice as they talk. Rise means that
the voice is becoming more acute or sharp. A fall means that the pitch is dropping, meaning
that the sound is lower.
Questions that begin with who, what, when, where, why, which, and how (often referred to as
“wh-questions”) usually end in falling intonation.
What time is it?
Who is she?
When is he coming?
Also,commands and statements end in falling intonation. Commands and statements end in a
Shut the door.
Write your name.
The color is blue.
It is raining.
Questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no” answer (often referred to as “yes/no
usually end in rising intonation. The voice tone goes up at the end of the sentence.
Is it five o’clock yet?
Is that Mrs. Smith?
Is he coming?
In addition, wh-questions that ask for clarification or restating end in rising intonation.
What did you just say?
What did you say your name was?
What is Sentence Stress?
Sentence Stress is part of the “music” of English, with tone and intonation. You will notice that
in English utterances, there will/should always be some words that carry more “weight” or
“stress” than others. Hence, affecting the degree to which we sound “natural”.
In terms of listening, it affects how well agents can understand the utterances they hear. We
use word focus to accentuate a particular aspect of their utterances. In many respects, word
focus is the spoken equivalent of underlining, highlighting, or boldfacing words that people use
to draw attention to important things in writing.
The sentence “I want that done by tomorrow” conveys to the listener that you would like to get
that done by tomorrow and that is your wish.
Whereas, “I want that done by tomorrow.” The severity of your statement is highlighted
that you are very serious about it being done by tomorrow, it is not a wish anymore, but is a