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Date: 22th September 2017

Topic: “The Intonation System of English” (Paul Tench)

Chapter 1: Questionnaire

1) As regards intonation it can be said that it is inevitable, important and integral. It is

inevitable whenever a language is spoken; it is important carries meaning and will be the
most important part of a message; and it is integral to the study of any language as it
covers other aspects as grammar, pronunciation and spoken discourse.

2) The decisions that we make when we want to organize information are: the division of
information into manageable pieces and their “staging” (by tonality), what information is
new or given within each unit (by tonicity), and the grading of one piece of information
against another (by tone).

3) Tone is the mainly responsible for the communicative function of intonation. It is the
system of contrasting pitch movements in each unit of intonation and, among other roles;
it also identifies the status of information (minor, major or incomplete). The use of falls
and rises indicates, in broad terms, the communicative intent of the speaker. While the
fall indicates certainty and “knowing” (speaker-dominance), on the other hand the rise
suggests uncertainty and “querying” (speaker-deference).

4) Through intonation we are able to differentiate between transitive and intransitive

verbs. For example:

a) They washed and brushed their hair.

b) They washed | and brushed their hair.

In example a) hair is deemed to be the direct object complementing both verbs washed
and brushed; thus washed (and brushed) is transitive. In example b), however, with an
intonation boundary immediately after washed, the word hair is deemed to be the direct
object complementing brushed only; thus leaving washed as intransitive- in the sense of
simply washing oneself, presumably only hands and face (but no hair). Like this, there are

many more cases of two grammatical structures being disambiguated by intonation in the
spoken form of English.

5) Textual structure concerns longer than single units of intonation and individual pieces
of information. It deals with how separate, discrete units of intonation can hang together
to form the text of discourse. By “phonological paragraphing”, the combination of pitch
descent and pause not only serves to combine units together, but also serves to detach
the final unit of one item from the initial unit of the next.

As regards the identification of speech styles, it deals with the role of intonation in the
way in which we can identify different speech styles or genres (different language events).
There is something about the general sound of particular language events that identifies
them. This process is known as prosodic composition, by which differences in prosodic
composition depend on a number of features like degree of formality, number of
participants, degree of privacy, degree of semantic preparation, and whether the spoken
discourse was scripted or not.