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Intonation as a complex unity of prosodic features.
Intonation is a complex unity of non-segmental, or prosodic features of speech: 1. melody, pitch of the voice; 2. sentence stress; 3. temporal characteristics (duration, tempo, pausation); 4. rhythm; 5. tamber (voice quality).
Intonation is very important. It organizes a sentence, determines communicative types of sentences and clauses, divides sentences into intonation groups, gives prominence to words and phrases, expresses contrasts and attitudes. The two main functions of intonation are: communicative and expressive.
Functions of intonation.
• Emotional function's most obvious role is to express attitudinal meaning -sarcasm, surprise, shock, anger, interest, and thousands of other semantic nuances.
• Grammatical f-n helps to identify grammatical structure in speech, performing a role similar to punctuation.
• Informational f-n helps draw attention to what meaning is given and what is new in an utterance. The word carrying the most prominent tone in a contour signals the part of an utterance that the speaker is treating as new information.
• Textual f-n helps larger units of meaning than the sentence to contrast and cohere. In radio news-reading, paragraphs of information can be shaped through the use of pitch. In sports commentary, changes in prosody reflect the progress of the action.
• Psychological f-n helps us to organize speech into units that are easier to perceive and memorize. Most people would find a sequence of numbers, for example, difficult to recall. The task is made easier by using intonation to chunk the sequence into two units.
• Indexical f-n, along with other prosodic features, is an important marker of personal or social identity. Lawyers, preachers, newscasters, sports commentators, army sergeants, and several other occupations are readily identified through their distinctive prosody.
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