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Anatomy of intonation patterns. Types of pre-heads, heads and tails




Functions of Intonation.

The first approach.

1) The constitutive function: intonation forms sentences, which consist of intonation groups, characterized by a certain intonation pattern.

2) The distinctive function: intonation distinguishes communicative types of sentences, the speaker’s emotions and attitudes to the contents of the sentence, to the listener or to the topic of the conversation.

The second approach.

1) The sentence-forming (communicative) function: intonation, being a powerful means of human communication, indicates the communicative type of an utterance (a statement, a command, an exclamation).

2) The sentence-delimiting function: intonation delimits utterances and parts of utterances in the speech flow. The end of the sentence is recognized by a pause combined with a moving tone on the most important word of the sentence, the end of the non-final sense-group is recognized by a shorter pause.

3) The attitudinal function: intonation expresses the mood of the speaker, his attitude towards the situation and to the listener

 

 

The voice pitch or speech melody and sentence stress are the two main components of intonation. Each intonation group has its own pitch-and-stress pattern. We distinguish three pitch levels: high, medium, low.

The pitch range of a whole intonation pattern is the interval between the highest-pitched and the lowest-pitched syllables. Pitch ranges may be normal, wide and narrow.

Pitch-and-stress sections of an intonation pattern containing several stressed syllables are: pre-head, head, nucleus and tail.

Nucleus is the last stressed syllable of the intonation pattern on which the pitch movement changes. There are eight nuclear tones in modern English: Low Fall, High Fall, Low Rise, High Rise, Fall-Rise, Rise-Fall, Rise-Fall-Rise, Mid-Level.

 

The Head is a part which begins with the first stressed syllable up to the last stressed syllable (the nucleus) but not including it.

Types of heads:

  1. Descending: the voice moves down from a medium or high pitch level to the low one.

- Stepping – stressed syllables move down by steps, while unstressed syllables are pronounced on the same note as the preceding stressed one (weighty and ponderous).

- Falling – stressed syllables move down by steps, while unstressed syllables fall down.

- Scandent – stressed syllables move down by steps, while unstressed syllables move up.

- Sliding – the voice moves down by slides within stressed syllables, while unstressed syllables continue to fall (expresses the speaker’s personal involvement).



The descending heads may be broken by the accidental (or special) rise, when one of the syllables is pronounced on a higher pitch level than the preceding one. It is used to single out a particular word in a phrase, to sound lively and express personal concern of the speaker).

The descending heads occur before any nuclear tone except the Mid-Level tone.

  1. Ascending: the first stressed syllable is low in the pitch, each following stressed syllable being higher than the preceding one.

- Rising – the voice moves up by steps, while unstressed syllables continue to rise.

- Climbing – the voice moves up by slides, while unstressed syllables glide up too(very emphatic).

The ascending heads are associated with high Rise and High Fall.

  1. Level heads: all the syllables are pronounced on more or less the same note of a pitch level

- High Level – before High Fall, High Rise, Rise-Fall.

- Medium Level – common before the Mid-Level tone.

- Low Level – before Low Rise, Low Fall (sound very detached, cool, unsatisfied, disapproving).

 

The Pre-head is formed by all unstressed and partially stressed syllables which precede the head. If there is no head in the sentence all unstressed syllables before the nucleus are called the pre-nucleus.

Types of pre-heads:

- Low pre-head – all initial unstressed syllables are pronounced lower than the first stressed syllable of the head.

- High pre-head – all initial unstressed syllables are pronounced higher or on the same level as the first stressed syllable of the head (very emphatic).

 

The tail is formed by post nuclear unstressed and partially stressed syllables.

Types of tails:

- Low – after a falling nucleus the tail remains low.

- Rising – after the rising nucleus all unstressed syllables gradually rise in pitch.

The changes of pitch that take place in the nucleus are called nuclear tones. The nucleus and the tail form the terminal tone – the most significant part of the intonation group.

 

 





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