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
Mother Tongue Influence
Mother tongue Influence is otherwise called as MTI can be described as the influence of one’s
own mother tongue on a foreign language when he or she attempts to speak.
Rate of Speech
Rate of speech refers to the overall speed of speech. It also pertains to the rate at which the
pitch changes within and between words. The term “rate of speech” refers to the speed of
speaking in terms of words per minute. It is a rate that varies with different languages.
As a rule, the faster you speak, the more incomprehensible you make yourself. The
accomplished communicator maintains the ideal rate of speech: not so fast as to be
incomprehensible, not so slow as to be comprehensibly boring.
Your rate of speech can broadly be classified as:
• Slow, if it is stuttering along at less than 100 words per minute
• Medium, if you are clocking 120 to 170 words per minute
• Fast, if you are hurtling along at 180 words per minute or more.
You can achieve the ideal rate of speech with some hard work: practice reading out aloud and
timing your rate of speech. Increase or reduce the rate according to your requirements.
Remember, though, that like with anything worthwhile, you need to keep at it continuously and
regularly to achieve success.
Tongue twisters are structures language patterns, when practiced will help us to eliminate
mother tongue influence and rate of speech.
Some of the well known and practiced tongue twisters
“She sells sea shells by the sea shore."
"The big bug bit the little beetle, but the little beetle bit the big bug back."
"Red lorry, yellow lorry."
"If you want to buy, buy, if you don't want to buy, bye bye!"
"I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream..."
"Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy wuzzy wasn't very fuzzy, was he?"
"The blue bluebird blinks."
"A tricky frisky snake with sixty super scaly stripes."
"I can think of six thin things, but I can think of six thick things too."
"If two witches were watching two watches, which witch would watch which watch?"
"Give papa a cup of proper coffee in a copper coffee cup."
"How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood"
"Fresh fried fish, fish fresh fried, fried fish fresh, fish fried fresh."
"Kitty caught the kitten in the kitchen."