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Intonation

  • It has to be noted that stress and intonation work together to add emphasis to an utterance.
  • If the speaker uses the same level of speech, he would probably not be understood and it would be boring to his audience who would expect the normal change in the level of speech.
  • It is this change in the level of speech that is referred to as INTONATION.
  • Intonation is the name given to the level of speech in a sentence.
  • It includes the rising of the voice or the falling of the voice into silence at the end of the sentence.
  • Intonation is used in all languages to add special importance but it is not used in the same way in all languages.
  • One uses low or high pitch depending on the meaning the speaker wants to pass across to his audience.
  • The downward curve (˅) and the upward curve (˄) show falling and rising tones respectively.
  • The stressed words are marked with a dash whereas the unstressed words are marked with (.) under them.
  • What did you do last weekend? – Falling (↓)
  • Did you go anywhere special? – Rising (↑)
  • When the weather is nice, I play tennis. – Low-rise, falling (↓ ↑)
  • Yes-no questions have rising intonation.
  • Simple sentences tend to have falling intonation.
  • Compound and complex sentences often have a low-rise pattern in the first clause and the falling intonation in the second.
Function of the Falling Tone
  1. The falling information or ‘tone II’ is used for the last alternative question. For example:
    1. Did Josh go to the church or the market (˅) ?
    2. Should we eat the rice or the sandwich first (˅) ?
    3. Will you come visit me today or tomorrow (˅) ?
  2. The falling tone is used for exclamation.
    1. What a wonderful day (˅) !
    2. Oh! We lost at last (˅) !
    3. My group made it at the end (˅) !
  3. The falling tone is used for declarative sentences/statements
    1. I will succeed in my examination (˅)
    2. We did the work (˅)
    3. They arrested the man today (˅)
  4. The falling tone is used for commands and orders.
    1. Shut the door now (˅)
    2. Get out of my sight (˅)
    3. You must leave my house at once (˅)
Function of the Rising Tone
  1. The rising tone is used at the end of question that require the answer, ‘yes’ or ‘no’. When we leave the voice high at the end of the sentence, we arouse in the listener a feeling of incompleteness; that something is till to be said, either by the listener or the speaker.
    1. Are you waiting for the teacher (↑) ?
    2. Will the lesson start as scheduled (↑) ?
  2. The rising tone is used for polite requests and encouragements.
    1. Don’t lose hope, you will succeed (↑)
    2. May I travel with your group please (↑) ?
  3. The rising tone is used for personal reaction of interest.
    1. The film was quite interesting (↑)
    2. What is the meaning of this life (↑) ?
  4. The rising tone is used for statements that have additional meaning that the speaker wants to understand.
    1. They thought I would be offended (↑)
    2. She felt her husband would be rejoicing (↑)
  5. The rising tone is used for the first part of the alternative question.
    1. Do you like the hat or the cap (↑) ?
    2. Are you taking the fish or meat (↑) ?
  6. The rising tone is used to make polite apology.
    1. I am very sorry for my outburst (↑)
    2. I regret everything I said yesterday (↑)
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