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Tasks to Unit 7

1. Learn the following terms and word combinations. Check them out with the dictionary if necessary:

- voice pitch or speech melody;

- prominence of words;

- tempo (rate) of the utterance;

- rhythm;

- pausation;

- voice tamber;

- the constitutive function;

- the distinctive function;

- an intonation group;

- an intonation pattern;

- the pre-head;

- the head;

- the nucleus;

- the tail;

- the terminal tone;

- communicative types of sentences;

- parenthetical information;

- subsidiary information.


2. Give exhaustive answers to the following questions:

1) What are the components of intonation?

2) Do the views on intonation differ in Russian and foreign phonetics? If yes, what is the difference?

3) How many functions does intonation have? What are they? Specify each of them.

4) What is an intonation group?

5) What is an intonation pattern?

6) What does an intonation pattern consist of? Enumerate all the components and specify them.

7) How many types of nuclei are there in Modern English? Enumerate them.

8) What are the meanings of the nuclear tones?

9) What is the main function of sentence stress?

10) What does the distribution of stresses in a sentence depend on?

11) How many types of sentence stress do phoneticians differentiate? Enumerate and specify them.

3. Try to cover the following issues:

1) Give V.A. Vassiliev’s definition of intonation.

2) Give exhaustive information about the two main functions of intonation in speech.

3) The main nuclear tone and their meanings.

4) Normal, logical and emphatic sentence stress.



1.Phonostylistics as a branch of phonetics.

2.Extralinguistic situation.

3.Style-forming factors.

4.Classification of phonetic styles.



I)During the first half of the 20th century linguists were interested in written form of the language, and only during the last 40 years the situation has changed. With the invention of the tape-recorder linguists got a good opportunity to study spoken speech. But the absence of mechanical aids is not the only reason why spoken speech was ignored. The fact is that until recently theory and research on language were based on the assumption that only the written form of language realization can serve a reliable object of investigation. But when linguists became involved in investigating language in use, they realized that the language is part of the society. In real life people find themselves in various situations and they have to select those linguistic elements which match the needs of particular situations. This fact changed the whole approach to the language. Linguists began to study the language as a tool, a means of communication. They acknowledged that it is only in the context of communicative situation that the essential properties of a linguistic system can be discovered and analyzed.

In real life people find themselves in various situations and they have to select those linguistic elements which match the needs of particular situations. This fact changed the whole approach to the language. Linguists began to study the language as a tool, a means of communication. They acknowledged that it is only in the context of communicative situation that the essential properties of a linguistic system can be discovered and analyzed.

It is obvious that much of what people say, depends on the situation they are in. On the one hand, variations of language in different situations are numerous, but , on the other, language means which constitute any utterance are characterized by a certain pattern of selection and arrangement. The principles of this selection and arrangement, the ways of combining the elements, form what is called “the style”. The branch of linguistics that is concerned with the problems of functional styles is called functional stylistics.

Stylistics is regarded as a specific branch of linguistics concerned not with the elements of the language as such, but with their expressive potential.

A functional style can be defined as a functional set of formal patterns, into which language means are arranged in order to transmit information. Despite numerous attempts to work out a classification of functional styles, it is still an open question in linguistics. There is no universal classification admitted by all scholars. There exist various classifications of functional styles which single out scientific style, publicistic style, business style, literary (belles-lettres) style and colloquial style. Variations in language in these styles can be studied on three levels: phonetic, lexical and grammatical. The st level is the area of phonostylistics.

So, phonostylistics studies the way phonetic means are used in this or that particular situation. The aim of phonostylistics is to analyse all possible kinds of spoken utterances with the purpose of identifying the phonetic features, both segmental and suprasegmental, which are restricted to certain kinds of contexts, to explain why such features have been used and to classify them according to their function.

II)Extralinguistic situation.

To make a systematic view of phonostylistic differentiation of oral speech, an orderly analysis of the communicative extralinguistic situation appears to be mandatory. The analysis shows that the CES can be defined by three components, i.e.

a) purpose

b) participants

c) setting

These components distinguish situation as the context within which communication occurs. Thus, a speech situation can be defined by the co-occurrence of 2 or more interlocutors related to each other in a particular way, having a particular aim of communicating, communicating about a particular topic in a particular setting.

A) Firstly, a situation in connected with the purpose and the topic of communication. The purpose directs the activities of the participants throughout the situation to complete a task. Such purposes can be viewed in terms of general activity types (working, teaching, conducting a meeting, playing a game, chatting, etc.) and in terms of the activity type + specific subject matter.

But activity type alone doesn’t give an adequate account of the purpose in a situation. It only specifies the range of possible purposes that participants will orient toward. But people don’t set out to lecture on something, they intend to lecture on physics or literature etc. So, the notion of purpose requires the specification of contents at a more detailed level than that of activity type. Scholars call it “subject matter”. But it should be noted, that subject matter will determine the lexical items used, while the pronunciation will be slightly affected. That’s why when the study of functional variants of pronunciation is concerned, it is activity types that form the notion of the purpose of communication.

B) Another component of the situation is participants.

Speech varies with participants in numerous ways. It is a marker of various characteristics of the individual speakers as well as of relationships between participants. Characteristics of individuals may characterize the individual as an individual and as a member of a social group.

The social roles we play may be occupational roles (teacher, doctor, manager, etc.)

Besides, age of participants is also an important category for social interaction. The speech behavior of a person not only conveys information about his or her age, but also about the receiver of the verbal message. Thus, old people speak and are spoken to in a different way from young people. For instance, an elderly person usually speaks in a high-pitched voice (like Mrs. Marple in the well-known film); people use higher pitch-levels speaking to younger children.

Another factor is the sex of the speaker. Sex differences in pronunciation are much more numerous than differences in grammar. For instance, there is a consistent tendency for women to produce more standard pronunciation. Girls and women pronounce the standard realization of the verb ending in –ing (reading, visiting, etc) more frequently than boys and men who pronounce –in (readin, visitin, etc.); female speakers use a more polite pattern of assertive intonation while male speakers use a more deliberate pattern: Yes, I know.

The emotional state of the speaker at the moment of speech production is also of great interest to phoneticians, but the problem is waiting for its researcher.

C) The last component is setting or scene. The setting is defined by several features. The lot of them is physical orientation of participants. In a lecture, the speaker stands at some distance from the addressees and in a private chat they are situated face-to-face.

Settings may be public or private, personal - impersonal, polite - casual, high – cultured - low-cultured and many other value scales. All of them traditionally fall into formal and informal. Formal (or high) forms of language are characterized by elaboration of syntax, and lexicon, phonological precision and rhythmicality; while informal (or low) forms are characterized by elipsis, repetition, speed and slurring.

III)Style-forming factors.

The main factors determining variation in language usage are numerous, but our interest is aimed at variations of phonetic means. Here are researcher has to deal with the constant and decisive features of the situational circumstances of language event that are relevant for phonetic level of analysis.

A group of Russian scholars (Соколова Марина Алексеевна, Тихонова Раиса Михайловна and some others) single out the following factors which result in phonostylistic varieties:

1) the purpose, or the aim of the utterance

2) the speaker’s attitude

3) the form of communication

4) the degree of formality

5) the degree of spontaneity (or the degree of preparedness or the reference of the oral text to a written one).

Before considering each of the factors, it’ should be mentioned that the purpose of the utterance may be called a phonetic style-forming factor. The other factors cause modifications within this or that style and that’s why they are style-modifying factors. There is one more thing to be pointed out. All these factors are interdependent and interconnected.

Now we’ll consider each of the 5 factors and try to explain what sort of phonetic variations may correlate with each of them.

1) The purpose of utterance and the subject matter.

As we pointed out earlier, the subject matter determines the lexical items, and the aim of the utterance affects pronunciation. So, the aim is the strategy of the speaker and may be called a style-forming factor. On the phonetic level there are variations related to describe what language is being used for in the situation: is the speaker trying to persuade? to discipline? Is he teaching? advertising? etc. Each of the above-mentioned variants makes the speaker select functional phonetic means to make the realization of the aim more effective.

2) Another extralinguistic factor is the speaker’s attitude to the situation or to what he’s saying or hearing. The thing he is talking about may satisfy him or not; may elicit his positive or negative response, etc. This factor forms a complex unity with another characteristic feature of oral speech: any oral text is addressee-oriented.

In sum, this factor can be considered a relevant feature of oral speech. Its most common linguistic realization is intonation varieties which are numerous like varieties of emotions and attitudes an individual can express in various life situations.

Concluding we might say, that subjective colouring of oral speech is one of its most integral characteristics.

3) The form of communication.

There are 2 possible varieties here: a monologue ands a dialogue.

Monologuing is the speaking by one individual in such a way as to exclude the possibility of interruptions by others, except, perhaps, to show approval or disapproval. Monologues are more extended. They are characterized by more phonetic, lexical and grammatical cohesion.

Dialoguing (or conversing) is speaking in such a way as to invite the participation of others.

Phonetic organization of either of the two varieties can’t be analogical, since each kind is characterized by specific usage of language means of all the three levels.

Speaking in terms of psycholinguistics, monologues are more complex units. It can be proved by the fact that people learn dialoguing quite easily when abroad, while monologuing requires a special training evening the native language.

4) Among the social factors determining the usage of stylistic means is the formality of situation. The situation can be formal or informal, public or non-public. The process of speaking is a recognition of social roles and relationship. Formality reflects how the speaker interacts with the listener. A certain individual may possess a certain rank in a society which entitles him to be addressed in a certain way by his subordinates, in another way by his equals and in a 3rd way by his superiors. It suggests that a language user possesses the ability to speak in different styles. The influence of this factor upon the phonetic form of speech is revealed by variations of rate of articulation. In a formal situation the speaker tends to make his speech distinct, thorough and precise. In an informal situation the speaker uses less explicit and more rapid form.

5) The degree of preparedness (or spontaneity).

Phoneticians admit that this factor has a decisive influence on the phonetic organization of an oral text. The primary distinction here is the distinction between two kinds of speech activity: speaking and reading (speech without and with reference to the written text).

In terms of psycholinguistics, speaking and reading are two different psychic processes; they are generated in quite different ways.

While reading, the reader should use the phonetic means of the language to express the ideas of the written text adequately; as he doesn’t have to think what to say. As a result, the usage of phonetic means is characterized by a very high degree of regularity. Melodic, temporal, rhythmic organization of the text is even; pauses are made at syntactical junctures; the text sounds loud and distinct.

When spontaneous speech is taking place (when no notes are used), the psychic mechanism are quite different. Consequently, phonetic means are also used differently.

Hesitation is typical of spontaneous speech (for the speaker stops to choose a correct word, or a correct grammatical structure). The wording is taking place simultaneously with pronouncing. There appear micro pauses, pauses of different length, lengthening of sounds within the words and in the word final position. A spontaneous text is characterized by a number of features both on segmental and suprasegmental levels: assimilation, reduction, elision; uneven rhythm, abundance of pauses, different loudness and tempo. So, there are the main phonetic markers of a spontaneous text.


Before giving any kind of classification, it’n necessary to point out style-differentiating features, i.e. what perceptional characteristics of an oral text should be considered to have such a value.

1) A special voice colouring (or speech tamber) shows the speaker’s attitude to the situation and what he is saying. Tamber combined with non-verbal system of communication is a marker of some specific attitude or emotion which would be a permanent characteristic of a language user in a given communicative act.

2) Delimination is another style-differentiating feature on the perceptive level. There are different patterns of phonetic delimination of an oral text. The fragments of speech continuum into which the whole text is divided are the following:

- a phonopassage (in monologues)

- a semantic block (in dialogues)

- a phrase

- an intonation group

3) The accentuation of semantic centres.

By semantic centres phoneticians mean parts of the utterance that have a considerable value in realization of functional perspective, i.e. in expressing the main contents of the utterance. It’s done with the help of intonation.

Intonation constants semantic centers to the rest of the text. In spontaneous speech the contrast between accented and non-accented segments is greater than in reading.

IV. The problems of classification of phonetic styles.

Among the well-known classifications of phonetic styles we would mention the following:

1) S.M. Gaiduchic distinguishes 5 phonetic styles

- solemn (торжественный)

- scientific business (научно-деловой)

- official business (официально-деловой)

- everyday (бытовой)

- familiar (непринуждённый)

The styles are differentiated on the basis of spheres of discourse.

2) J.A. Dubovsky discriminates the following 5 styles:

- informal ordinary

- formal neutral

- formal official

- informal familiar

- declamatory.

This division is based on different degrees of formality between the speaker and the listener.


3) M.A. Sokolova and others point out the following styles:

- Informational style

- Academic (Scientific)

- Publicistic (Oratorial)

- Declamatory (Artistic)

- Conversational (Familiar)

This classification is based on the purpose of communication.

Concluding we should say that any style with very little exception is seldom realized in its pure form. Each text is likely to include phonetic characteristics of different styles. In such cases we speak about overlapping (fusion) of styles.



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