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INTONATION AND PROSODY




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LECTURE 5

5.1. Basic concepts: definitions, components

5.2. Functions of intonation

5.2.1.Syntactic function

5.2.2.Accentual function

5.2.3.Attitudinal function

5.2.4.Semantic function

5.2.5.Discourse function

5.3. Functions of prosodic features

5.3.1.Structural function

5.3.2.Social function

5.4. Universal, typological, specific features

5.4.1.Intonation grouping

5.4.2.Nucleus placement

5.4.3.Nuclear tones

5.4.4.Declination

5.4.5.Intonation of emotions

5.4.6.Key

5.4.7.Intonation acquisition

5.5. Comparing English and Russian

5.6.New trends in English intonation

 

 

5.1. Basic concepts: definitions, components

The term intonationhas often been used interchangeably in the literature with that of prosodysince the 60-70s of the 20th century. Before that prosody was used in poetics, and intonation in linguistics.

In the British school the basic notions of prosody and intonation are defined in the following manner:

Prosody/prosodic (feature)is "a term used in suprasegmental phonetics and phonology to refer collectively to variations in pitch, loudness, tempoand rhythm"{Crystal 1980:289). Recently voice qualityhas been added to the list of prosodic features {Roach 2001:112; Hirst and Di Cristo 1998:6).

Intonationis "a term used in the study of suprasegmental phonology referring to the distinctive use of patterns of pitch,or melody" {Crystal 1980:190). "The use of pitch variation to convey meaning" {Roach 2001: 110). "The pattern of pitch changes that occurs during a phrase, which maybe a complete sentence" {Ladefoged 2003).

We can see that in the British (and American) tradition intonation is associated with pitch variation, or melody, and that it has an important linguistic function of conveying meaning. Intonation starts with a phrase, a sentence, while prosody has a wider domain: from a syllable (microprosodics) to the whole text (macroprosodics).

In the Russian tradition intonation includes a greater number of components, practically all the prosodic features of speech. We might call it a wholistic approach. The most common definition in Russian phonetics is as follows:

Intonation"is a complex unity of four components, formed by communicatively relevant variations in: (1) voice pitch, or speech melody; (2) the prominence of words, or their accent; (3) the tempo (rate), rhythm and pausation of the utterance, and (4) voice-tamber, this complex unity serving to express adequately, on the basis of the proper grammatical struc­ture and lexical composition of the sentence, the speaker's or writer's thoughts, volition, emotions, feelings and attitudes towards reality and the contents of the sentence" {Vassilyev 1970:290).



Why does pitch,of all the prosodic features, come first in all the definitions? We will now have a look at the prosodic features, on the one side, and the components of intonation, on the other. We can start from David Crystal's classification of prosodic and paralinguistic features arranged according to the ranking from "most linguistic" to "least linguistic" {Crystal 1969). Here again the two features, toneand pitch range,which correspond to pitch variationrank highest as most linguistic(see Table 8).

Practically all the prosodic features, starting with pitch,are covered by the definition of intonation in the Russian tradition, including voice qualitywhich is marginal, "least linguistic", and for many British linguists used to be an outsider of linguistics called "paralinguistic". Although there is no one-to-one correspondence between intonation components and prosodic features, we can correlate speech melody with tone and pitch range; accent with loudness, which in English is inseparable from tone and tempo; tempo as a linguistic phenomenon with prosodic features of tempo and pause; timbre with voice quality.

In prosodic analysis we have to distinguish clearly at least three levels of description:

1) the acoustic levelat which certain properties of sound waves produced by the speaker can be objectively measured:

fundamental frequency(Fo) is the acoustic manifestation of pitch,

intensity(Int) is a correlate of loudness,

duration(Time, or T) is the lengthof any segment or phrase,

spectral characteristics(Fl, F2, F3) correlate with voice quality;

2) the listener's level is perceptual:the features of pitch, loudness, lengthand voice qualityare one's auditory impressionsof physical characteristics;

3) the linguisticlevel is concerned with decoding the meaningswhich are expressed by phrasing, accentuation and tone usage, and it is at this level that the term intonationis most commonly used.

Actually, the perceptual and the linguistic levels are important for both the speaker and the listener: evidence from psychology of speech production suggests that although most of the speech is automatic, the speaker also must hear oneself talking all the time to check what is being said, together with the reaction of the listener. Thus the production and the reception of one's own speech happen simultaneously, in a shuttle-like manner.

Here we have to make a note about the complex natureof our percep­tual and linguistic categories, in particular about the fact that sounds which are higher in pitch may be perceived as loud, and that the effect of prominence called accentdepends on a combination of pitch, duration, intensity and vowel quality, that voice qualityis normally associated with pitch for emotional and expressive speech effect; and that rhythmis created by regular recurrence, or periodicity, of all the prosodic events starting with accents, tones, pauses, and finishing with changes in tempo and voice quality. However, with certain reservations, we can present the most common­ly accepted correlations between the three levels of description:

Thus we can conclude that intonationoperates at the linguistic level, starting from the sentence level, whereas prosodydeals with certain physк л I and perceptual features starting from a syllable to the whole text. What they have in common is pitchvariation ranking highest among all the components, the most linguistic of all. In the following description of intonation we will focus on pitch variation accompanied by accent, tempo, pause, rhythm and voice quality.

Each prosodic feature is a system in itself which possesses certain units, relative in character. For example, there is a system of simple (fall, rise, level), complex (fall-rise, rise-fall) and compound (fall + rise) tonesin English; pitch rangecategories are: normal, wide and narrow; accentmay be primary or secondary, tempocan be normal, fast and slow; pauses are unit, short, long and extra-long; voice qualityfeatures are modal, creaky, breathy, husky, resonant, whisper, falsetto, tremulous and harsh; rhythmmay be described as clipped or slurred, constant or variable, glissando or staccato.

Acoustically, we can take measurements to establish certain values of physical parameters corresponding to each relative, although quite meaningful, category. Thus, for instance, it was found that in the English language there are different pitch range values in RP, British regional speech and GA for men: in RP an octave (12 semitones) is not unusual, whereas regional speech may vary within a narrower range of 4-8 st (semitones) only. In American English the average pitch range is 6-8 st for men, with the best public speakers reaching 11 st at best. There are similar ranges of tempo variation, pitch changes, pause duration and accented/unaccented syllable duration contrast found for certain languages, dialects, styles of speech, age and gender differences. The usual procedure in prosodic research is establishing correlation between perceptual categories and their acoustic values.





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