ENGLISHINTONATION Spring 2012 Ms. Candice Quiñones
THE BASICS• Intonation is a non-verbal method of expressing various meanings, emotions or situations.• Intonation in American English uses the rise and fall of pitch to accomplish this.
INTONATION AND STRUCTURE Intonation is very closely linked to grammar, or more specifically, sentence structure. Because English has a fairly strictly fixed word order, it is not an option to rearrange the words when we want to make a point about something. Therefore, it becomes necessary to shift our intonation to highlight information that is key to our point.
SOME CLASSIC RULESSentence Level Rules Yes/no questions usually have a rising intonation at the end. I.E. Do you want some water? Information or “wh” questions usually have falling intonation at the end. I.E. When will the package arrive? Declarative sentences also have falling intonation at the end. I.E. Intonation makes English more interesting.
SOME CLASSIC RULESOther Rules When listing items, your pitch should rise at the end of the word for each item, but drop after the last one. I.E. I need a hammer, nails, wood, and some hinges. It is acceptable to leave your intonation high and let your voice trail off when you are still thinking but plan to continue speaking. I.E. Let me see…
SOME CLASSIC RULES: THOUGHTGROUPSEvery sentence can be divided up into a series of shorter“thought groups”. For Example: “My brother bought me a new bicycle.” Can be divided as: My brother / bought me / a new bicycle. Each of the divisions begins a new thought group.
THOUGHT GROUPS & INTONATION In a sentence, depending on the focus and the type of sentence, you will determine which words in each thought group to stress or emphasize by raising your pitch. However, please note, that at the end of each thought group, your intonation must end by falling. Example: My brother / bought me / a new bicycle. [Translation: My brother (not my sister) bought me (not you) a new bicycle (not a pony).] *Exception: the end of the final thought group of yes/no questions will rise.
ASPECTS OF INTONATION New Information Contrast Meaning Pronunciation Mood or Personality Cultural Understanding*Source: http://www.americanaccent.com/intonation.html
NEW INFORMATION In standard English, the nouns usually carry the weight of a sentence, when everything else is equal. Although the verb carries important information, it does not receive the primary stress of a first-time noun. Ex. Dogs eat bones. After the information has been introduced, or is being repeated through the use of pronouns, the intonation shifts over to the verb. The intonation changes when a sentence changes from nouns to pronouns: Ex. Dogs eat bones. They eat them.
NEW INFORMATION: PHRASING In addition to the intonation of a statement, there is another aspect of speech that indicates meaning -- phrasing. In a sentence, phrasing tells you where the speaker is at the moment, where he is going, and if he is finished or not.
PHRASING:NOTICE THAT THE INTONATION STAYS ON THENOUNS.Statement ListingStress the nouns and let the tone With more than one item in a list,fall at the end of the sentence. all but the last one have a risingDogs eat bones. tone. Dogs eat bones, kibbles andFirst half, second halfThe first half of a sentence meat.usually sets up the second half.Dogs eat bones, but cats eat Questionfish. A regular question goes up (compared with a statement), butIntro PhraseWhen you want to preface your drops back down at the end.statement, use a rising tone. Do dogs eat bones?As we all know, dogs eat bones. Repeated Question A repeated, rhetorical or emotional question goes up, and then up again at the end. Do dogs eat bones?!
CONTRAST Once the intonation of new information is established, notice that there is a pattern that breaks that flow. When you want to emphasize one thing over another, you reflect this contrast with pitch change. Notice how the intonation indicates contrast: Bob studies English. Bob studies English, but he doesnt use it.
CONTRAST: DANGERS If a person consistently stresses "contrast words" as opposed to "new information words", he can end up sounding permanently argumentative*. Examples: I said it is good. He doesnt like it. Where are you going? *this is not a good thing
CONTRAST: DANGERS Mixed messages occur when modals or verbs of perception are stressed -- you end up with the opposite meaning! Examples: People should exercise more, but . . . They would help us, if . . . It looks like Chanel, but at that price, its a knock- off. He seems like a nice guy, but once you get to know him. . .
MEANINGExercise to demonstrate the variety of meaning throughintonation changes: Take a single sentence, try stressing each word in turn, and see the totally different meanings that come out. 1. I didnt say he stole the money. 2. I didnt say he stole the money. 3. I didnt say he stole the money. 4. I didnt say he stole the money. 5. I didnt say he stole the money. 6. I didnt say he stole the money. 7. I didnt say he stole the money.
MEANINGOnce you are clear on the intonation changes in the sevensentences, you can add context words to clarify the meaning: 1. I didnt say he stole the money, someone else said it. 2. I didnt say he stole the money, thats not true at all. 3. I didnt say he stole the money, I only suggested the possibility. 4. I didnt say he stole the money, I think someone else took it. 5. I didnt say he stole the money, maybe he just borrowed it. 6. I didnt say he stole the money, but rather some other money. 7. I didnt say he stole the money, he may have taken some jewelry.
PRONUNCIATION In any language, there are areas of overlap, where one category has a great deal in common with a different category. In this case, intonation and pronunciation have two areas of overlap. First is the pronunciation of the letter T. When a T is at the beginning of a word (such as table, ten, take), it is a clear sharp sound. It is also clear in combination with certain other letters, (contract, contain, etc.) When T is in the middle of a word (or in an unstressed position), it turns into a softer D sound. Betty bought a bit of better butter. Beddy bada bida bedder budder. It is this intonation/pronunciation shift that accounts for the difference between photography (phoTAgraphy) and photograph (PHOdagraph).
MOOD AND PERSONALITY This determines if you will be considered charming or rude, confident or nervous, informed or unfamiliar. An extremely important part of intonation is inside a one-syllable word. We put in little sounds that are not in the written language, but that convey a great deal of information in terms of who we are.
MOOD AND PERSONALITY When we contrast two similar words, one ending with a voiced consonant (d, z, g, v, b) and the other with an unvoiced consonant (t, s, k, f, p), you will hear the difference in the preceding vowel, specifically in the length or duration of that vowel. In other words, words that end in a voiced consonant have a doubled (longer) vowel sound. For example, if you say bit, it is a quick, sharp sound--a single musical note. If you say bid, however, the word is stretched out, it has two musical notes, the first one higher than the second, bi-id.
MOOD AND PERSONALITY How you stretch a word and manipulate your pitch when you say it can also send various messages. Consider this video
MOOD AND PERSONALITY Sarcasm: The Three Little Pigs Sarcasm is another function of intonation, or rather the purposed lack of intonation to signal an opposite meaning.
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