# Theoretical phonetics. Study guide for second year students. Борискина О.О - 60 стр.

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60
Certain intonation patterns present difficulties for the learner of English.
For example, learners frequently associate questions exclusively with rising
intonation, and as a result may have difficulty correctly producing and/or
interpreting many wh-questions, which typically have falling intonation in
English.
Tag questions are also difficult for nonnative learners, in terms of both
grammar and intonation. Most learners use the rising intonation only, thereby
signaling uncertainty. Native speakers, on the other hand, use tag questions with
intonation signaling certainty much more frequently, since they most typically
use tags to elicit confirmation, not to express uncertainty. Thus when producing
utterances such as "That was a really tough exam, wasn't it?" (with final rising
intonation), an ESL/EFL learner might appear to a native-speaker interlocutor to
be unusually indecisive or hesitant.
Alternative questions can also be confusing to the nonnative learner, since
nonnatives may again have difficulty interpreting or producing the difference
between open- or closed-choice alternative questions. A common phenomenon
among learners is to interpret closed-choice questions as open-choice. Thus in
restaurants, when asked if they would like blue cheese, ranch, or house
the three options.
Depending on the language background of the learner, the pitch variation
within intonation contours may be either too narrow or too exaggerated. For
example, the intonation of languages such as Japanese, Spanish, and Dutch
typically has a narrower range - thus making the English intonation of learners
from these language groups sound somewhat flat. Speakers of other languages
(such as Russian, Norwegian or the Swiss dialect of German) use more
exaggerated pitch variation within a contour, lending a somewhat sing-song
quality to their English.
Intonation and Meaning
Individual speakers make very specific use of prosody (i.e., intonation,
volume, tempo, and rhythm) to convey their meaning in extended spoken
discourse. Initially, by marking thought groups or intonation units, a speaker
signals "information about thematic соhesion, perspective, message prominence,
and distinctions such as those between shared and non-shared, main and
subsidiary information" (Gumperz and Kaltman 1980: 62).
The intonation or the pitch contour of a thought group is crucial; Ford and
Thompson (in press), for example, demonstrate that in English conversation a
complete intonation
contour is almost always accompanied by a grammatical
completion (a phrase, a clause, etc.). However, the reverse is not true. There are
many grammatically complete word strings that are not perceived by the
interlocutor as complete. This is because they are not produced with utterance-
final intonation, thus indicating that the speaker is not finished. From these
findings, we can deduce that intonation is more important than grammar for
                                       60
Certain intonation patterns present difficulties for the learner of English.
For example, learners frequently associate questions exclusively with rising
intonation, and as a result may have difficulty correctly producing and/or
interpreting many wh-questions, which typically have falling intonation in
English.
Tag questions are also difficult for nonnative learners, in terms of both
grammar and intonation. Most learners use the rising intonation only, thereby
signaling uncertainty. Native speakers, on the other hand, use tag questions with
intonation signaling certainty much more frequently, since they most typically
use tags to elicit confirmation, not to express uncertainty. Thus when producing
utterances such as "That was a really tough exam, wasn't it?" (with final rising
intonation), an ESL/EFL learner might appear to a native-speaker interlocutor to
be unusually indecisive or hesitant.
Alternative questions can also be confusing to the nonnative learner, since
nonnatives may again have difficulty interpreting or producing the difference
between open- or closed-choice alternative questions. A common phenomenon
among learners is to interpret closed-choice questions as open-choice. Thus in
restaurants, when asked if they would like blue cheese, ranch, or house
the three options.
Depending on the language background of the learner, the pitch variation
within intonation contours may be either too narrow or too exaggerated. For
example, the intonation of languages such as Japanese, Spanish, and Dutch
typically has a narrower range - thus making the English intonation of learners
from these language groups sound somewhat flat. Speakers of other languages
(such as Russian, Norwegian or the Swiss dialect of German) use more
exaggerated pitch variation within a contour, lending a somewhat sing-song
quality to their English.

Intonation and Meaning
Individual speakers make very specific use of prosody (i.e., intonation,
volume, tempo, and rhythm) to convey their meaning in extended spoken
discourse. Initially, by marking thought groups or intonation units, a speaker
signals "information about thematic соhesion, perspective, message prominence,
and distinctions such as those between shared and non-shared, main and
subsidiary information" (Gumperz and Kaltman 1980: 62).
The intonation or the pitch contour of a thought group is crucial; Ford and
Thompson (in press), for example, demonstrate that in English conversation a
complete intonation contour is almost always accompanied by a grammatical
completion (a phrase, a clause, etc.). However, the reverse is not true. There are
many grammatically complete word strings that are not perceived by the
interlocutor as complete. This is because they are not produced with utterance-
final intonation, thus indicating that the speaker is not finished. From these
findings, we can deduce that intonation is more important than grammar for