Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Intonation: attitude, grammar, etc

"Studies of data show that in guessing games, for instance, speakers tend to use falling tones in yes-no questions when making initial guesses but switch to rising tones as they begin to have an idea about what the answer might be. (Brazil, 1997: 107). Similarly, a grammatical description cannot explain why yes-no requests for help sound pushy if accompanied by a rising tone."

"It is equally dangerous to attach specific attitudinal labels to pitch choices. Native speakers rarely agree when matching intonation contours with attitudinal labels as Crystal’s experiments (1969) show. (Crystal in Coulthard, 1977: 98) Furthermore, tones can represent more than one attitude and a number of attitudes can reflect more than one tone. (Crystal in Cauldwell, 2000: 1) Studies demonstrate that judgements about a speaker’s emotional state cannot be made without contextual knowledge. Cauldwell, for instance, has shown that people judgements change depending on whether utterances are heard inisolation or in-context. (Cauldwell, 2000: 5)"

Wynnpaul Varela's review of the treatment of Intonation in courses.

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