Индекс УДК 37
Дата публикации: 29.10.2021

Helping learners understand and use discourse intonation.

Lipina A.A.
PhD, associate professor
Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration
Abstract: In the article, the author examines the issue of helping students understand and use speech intonation.
Keywords: speech, speech intonation.

No matter what kind of language we look at, it will be obvious that each one has its own character and musical representation (Ruskin, 1880: 3). In other words, we are talking about language prosody which is comprised of intonation, tone, prominence and rhythm (Crystal, 1969). The focus of this research is dedicated to intonation, to be exact discourse intonation. The reason for this choice is justified by the true believe that context influences the speaker’s intonation. With the help of intonation speakers can show how their utterances are interconnected and how it refers to the discourse in general.

There are several approaches towards the intonation analysis. For instance, grammatical analysis — developed by M. Halliday or contour analysis shared by J. O’Connor, L. Armstrong, G. Palmer, et. al. However, in this paper the intonation analysis is going to be based on the theory presented by D. Brazil (1975, 1985) as discourse is in the centre of attention.

According to M. Coulthard and D. Brazil, discourse intonation consists of tone units which are “the building blocks out of which all spoken communication is constructed” (Brazil, 1994: 3; Coulthard, 1985). In its turn each tone unit is comprised of prominence, tone (nuclear), key (low/middle/high pitch) and termination – each of which adds a different type of information to each tone unit.


It is important to know that how we speak — the manner — is as essential as the words we choose to express our ideas. Bearing this in mind, we may conclude that intonation can easily convey linguistic message and that intonation has several functions. According to Roach (1991) and Thompson (1995) discourse intonation functions can be subdivided into 4 categories.  They are linguistic-form based, attitudinal, accentual and conversation management related (Clennel, 1997; Wennerstrom, 1994).



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