Lecture 7 Tones

• Tones and tone languages • Tones and functions of tones in English • Tone units


• English is one of those languages that do not use tone to distinguish the meanings of words.Tones and tone languages • When we speak. Such languages are called intonation languages. no English speakers would say that the meaning of the word is different with different tones. though tones or pitch differences are used for other purposes. a word such as ‘yes’ and ‘no’ can be spoken with different tones. Tone is the overall behaviour of pitch in a syllable. we constantly vary the pitch of our voice. 2 . • Although in English.

g.Tone languages • A tone language is one in which the tone can determine the meaning of a word and a change from one tone to another can completely change the meaning of a word. Vietnamese. substituting one distinctive tone for another on a particular word can cause a change in lexical meaning of that word. • E. Chinese 3 . In other words.

Tones Tones Simple tones Complex tones Level tones (_) Moving tones Fall-rise tone (v) Rise-fall Tone (^) Falling tone (\) Rising tone (/) 4 .

Description of tones • The level tone is one in which the pitch remains at a constant level • The falling tone is one which descends from a higher to a lower pitch • The rising tone is a movement from a lower pitch to a higher one • The fall-rise tone is one in which the pitch falls and then rises • The rise-fall tone is one in which the pitch rises and then falls 5 .

• • The level tone. uninteresting or boring.g. A teacher’s calling the names of the students from a register and the students respond the teacher with ‘Yes’. This tone almost always conveys a feeling of saying something routine.Functions of English tones 1. Respondents answer surveys or questionnaires. E. • 6 .

• • The falling tone.2. it will be understood that the question is now answered and there is nothing more to be said. This tone is usually regarded as more or less neutral. It is said to give an impression of ‘finality’. • • • How many dogs have you got? What was the weather like? Have you finished? Two Wet Yes 7 . If someone is asked a question and replies ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with a falling tone.

Then you type in your password and finally click “Log in” Yes? Yes? No? Yes? Yes? Yes? 8 . Have you talked to her? Hello. Excuse me. is that John? First you type in your user name. • • • • • The rising tone This tone conveys an impression that something more is to follow or an invitation to continue.3.

is it? No. Isn’t he handsome? Yes. • • The fall-rise This tone is usually used to show ‘limited agreement’ or response with reservations. (thanks to her make-up) • It’s not very difficult. (but remember that I’m just a beginner) 9 . (but he is not very manly) • She looks beautiful Yes.4.

No. disapproval or surprise. Isn’t he intelligent? Have you ever heard such a story? She has won the contest. • • • • The rise-fall This tone is used to convey rather strong feelings of approval. Great. 10 . Yes.5.

the tone unit may consist of only one syllable James? Four? • The syllable which carries the tone in a tone unit is called the ‘tonic syllable’.Tone units • A tone unit is a group of syllables over which a tone extends. 11 . It is also referred to as an ‘intonation group’ or a ‘tone group’. Is it you? You have sold your car? • In its smallest form.

. consisting of one tone unit.Tone-unit with more than one syllable Is it /you • The third syllable • is more prominent than the other two • carries a level tone • is a tonic syllable • The other two syllables • are less prominent • said on a level pitch • “is it you” is an utterance of three syllables. The only syllable that carries a tone is 12 “you”.

Structure of tone unit Tone unit Pre-head Head Tonic syllable Tail (PH) (H) TS (T) 13 .

14 . This means that the tonic syllable is an obligatory component of the tone unit.Tonic syllable • is the syllable which carries the tone in a tone-unit • Each tone-unit has one and only one tonic syllable.

g. If there is no stressed syllable before the tonic syllable. there cannot be a head. lgive me \those lin an \hour 15 . e.The head • The head (H) is all that part of a tone-unit that extends from the first stressed syllable up to but not including the tonic syllable.

• Pre-heads are found in two main environments: • When there is no head: in an \hour PH • When there is a head: in a ’little ’less than an hour PH H 16 .The pre-head • The pre-head (PH) is composed of all the unstressed syllables in a tone-unit preceding the first stressed syllable.

g.The tail • Any syllables between the tonic syllable and the end of the tone unit are called the tail • e. \look at it T /what did you say T 17 .