Organizational Function of Intonation in English and Ukrainian Languages

The great diversity of opinion among the well-known domestic and foreign phoneticists in question on allocation of the main components of intonation. Functions and lexico-grammatical structure of intonation in English and in Ukrainian languages.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
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Язык английский
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Organizational Function of Intonation in English and Ukrainian Languages


It is a very important phenomenon in language and I think this theme is very popular nowadays as everyone should know main rules of intonation and use them in one or another language to make speech more professional and phonetically correct. There is no doubt that the intonation plays a leading role in the communication process. The tone is played not only communicative function. Intonation sets the connections and relationships between the parts of speech and draws contrasts the mire of statements, reports emotionally-modal values.

Intonation is used to carry a variety of different kinds of information. It signals grammatical structure, though not in a one-to-one way, whilst the end of a complete intonation pattern will normally coincide with the end of a grammatical structure such as a sentence or clause, even quite major grammatical boundaries may lack international marking, particularly if the speech is fast. Intonation can reflect the information structure of an utterance, highlighting constituents of importance. Intonation can indicate discourse function. Intonation can be used by a speaker to convey an attitude such as friendliness, enthusiasm, or hostility. And listeners can use intonation-related phenomena in the voice to make inferences about a speaker's state, including excitement, depression, and tiredness.

1. Components of intonation

Before proceeding to the presentation of the most important functions of intonation, it seems appropriate to list the major components of intonation. However, it should be noted great diversity of opinion among the well-known domestic and foreign phoneticists in question on allocation of the main components of intonation. It is expressed in the allocation of the number of components of different intonation (it varies from one to two to nine) and the most diverse set of components.

In the allocation of the components of intonation we find the following principles:

- The functional principle (linguistic significance of the phonetic phenomenon);

- The structural principle (the presence of a primary acoustic correlation);

- The principle of unity segment assets.

So, to separate the components of intonation we refer: melody, tempo, pause, volume, rhythm.

Speaking about sentence stress in English we can say that it is the main mean of providing rhythm in speech. Rhythm is the key to fluent English speech. Imagine a metronome beating the rhythm. The stressed syllables are like the beats of the metronome: regular, loud, and clear. The unstressed syllables between the beats are shortened, obscured, and joined together.

e.g Kevin sent a letter.

Let's mark the stressed syllables:

The pattern of stress in this sentence is stressed - unstressed - stressed - unstressed - stressed - unstressed, with equal number of alternating stressed and unstressed syllables. Try to pronounce this sentence rhythmically. It should be easy to do because the alternation of one stressed and one unstressed syllable is easy to reproduce.

If to make this sentence longer and mark the stressed syllables and the fall:

Now we have one, two, or several unstressed syllables in the intervals between the stressed syllables, but we have the same amount of time for each interval because the stressed syllables, like the beats of the metronome, have to occur regularly. And the sentence is not very long, so we won't need noticeable pauses between the sense groups.

Sentence stress is the key component of English intonation. Intonation organizes words into sentences, distinguishes different types of sentences, and adds emotional coloring to utterances. English intonation is quite difficult for Ukrainian students. Developing the ability to hear, understand, and reproduce sentence stress in speech is the main prerequisite to mastering English intonation.

Intonation of Ukrainian language includes:

a) raising and lowering the tone (melody of speech);

b) acceleration and deceleration pronunciation (tempo);

c) increase and decrease in voting power (intensity of speech);

d) a specific interchange of stressed and unstressed syllables (rhythm of the speech);

d) isolating the words in the phrase by special stress - word, logical and emphatic.

Word stress - is the sound selection of one of the word in phrase (mostly the last word). This stress emphasizes the finality of expression and encourages the listener to a certain reaction.

e.g. Щоб докладно обговорити це питання, нам треба зустрітися ще завтра.

(in this sentence slightly increases accented syllable of the last word, and that indicates that the sentence completed.)

Logical stress - it is separation of the word which is important for the content by strengthening and increases its accented syllable in tone. Using logical stress the same sentence can provide a number of different semantic shades.

e.g. Я допоможу Вам!

(in this sentence depending on which word we emphasize it would have different meanings - that the speaker will help us and no one else; or that this action would be executed; or that assistance will be provided with this person and not another.)

Emphatic stress - is emotional separation of words in the phrase. In Ukrainian language it is expressed, usually by lengthening of stressed vowel and increased tone.

e.g. Пливти влітку Дніпром - це ж чудово!

(in this case the word чудово is emotionally stressed)

2. Functions of intonation in English

Semantic function of English intonation.

With this function the change of melodic phrase structure leads to a change in its reference, changes attribution statements to the fact of reality.

e. g. He does not give his books to \anybody.

Він не дає книги нікому.

e.g. He does not give his books to \/anybody.

Він не кожному дає свої книги.

e. g. \ All the rabbits aren't in the cages.

В клітці немає жодного кролика.

e.g. \/ All the rabbits aren't in the cages.

Не всі кролики знаходяться в клітці.

Examples of this kind are few, and their semantic interpretation, it's not easy not only to students who are learning English, but also to native speakers. Implementation of semantic features associated with the tonal configuration

Informational function.

According to the most well-established in the phonetic literature views, intonation plays a leading role in the informational structure of the utterance. In the intonation group implements a specific piece of information.

e.g. There's a \ man in the room.

(speaking allocates one bit of information.)

e.g. There's a man in the room.

(they have two and they are equal.)

e.g. There's a \ man in the \ room.

(is a combination of two information centers, and the second is subordinate to the first)

The position of the nucleus indicates the position of the information center:

e.g. \ I (not John) saw Mary at the theatre yesterday.

e.g. I saw \ Mary (not Kate) at the theatre yesterday.

Syntactic function.

Under the syntactic function of intonation is traditionally understood its ability to distinguish between the types and syntax of the sentence. Most are obvious, and therefore the first of the above was a correlation of syntactic type of proposal and the type of nuclear completion.

Known opposition, in which the type of melodic completion discerns

- Concessive subordinate clause and time:

e.g. He keeps on \ talking when he knows it a \ nnoys us.

Він продовжує говорити, хоча знає що він нас дратує.

e.g. He keeps on \ talking when he knows it a / nnoys us.

Коли він знає, що це нас дратує, то він продовжує говорити.

- Concessive clause and a conditional clause:

e.g I'll make her do the flowers her \ self if I have to stand over her all \ morning.

Я змушу її самостійно зайнятися квітами, якщо навіть мені прийдеться стояти над нею весь ранок.

e.g. I'll make her do the flowers her \ self if I have to stand over her all / morning.

Якщо мені прийдеться стояти над нею весь ранок, я змушу її самостійно зайнятися квітами.

Thus, the existence of syntactic functions of intonation in the traditional interpretation of this function is a major challenge. But should unequivocally accept the existence of the intonation of this function, if understood as the ability to transmit the latest communication and relationships between the elements of the whole. And this ability is most clearly manifested in the text.

Communicative function.

Under the communicative function of intonation is commonly understood as its ability to discriminate between types of communicative utterances. The statement can be defined as the minimal communicative unit aimed at a conscious purpose. The purpose of the statement is not in itself (except, perhaps, in those situations when a person speaks only to say something). Saying there is a mean to achieve a goal that is beyond the actual text of the utterance. In pronouncing sentence, we affirm and express doubt, offer, order, request, praise and so on. These and numerous other categories are expressed in communicative type of utterance. Examples of distinctive communicative function of intonation are such opposition as:

- Approval - the question:

e.g. You like \ apples - You like / apples?

- Request - an order:

e.g. Go a \ head - Go a / head.

- Approval - motivation:

e.g. I'm \ waiting - I'm / waiting or I'm \ / waiting.

Emotionally-modal function.

Most researchers are unanimous in recognizing the tone for the ability to express emotions and relationships. The question is, is this question the competence of linguistics. There is a point of view that the basis for the expression of emotions is universal human physiological responses, and therefore it does not belong to the sphere of language.

Returning to the expression of emotions and relationships, it can be assumed that the various elements of intonation structures function in different ways. With respect to the melodies there is evidence that the ability of independent transmission emotionally-modal states has only the level of the pitch frequency (and correlating them with the tone), and the configuration passes emotionally-modal information only in conjunction with the context.

3. Functions of intonation in Ukrainian

So if to speak about functions of intonation in Ukrainian language we must say first of all that there they are not such numerous as in English.

Intonation provides broadcast semantics, expression, modalities, stylistic coloring and more.

Under the following functions:

Communicative function (комунікативна функція) is the function of communication types of. The communicative function of intonation is leading. According to statements in the Ukrainian language are different types of communication expression, as affirmative, interrogative and persuasive sentences.

Tonal structure of affirmative sentence is an ascending-falling well as downward movement of the fundamental tone, which means completeness of thought.

e.g. Він пішов у бібліотеку за \книжками.

Intonation of the interrogative sentence is usually characterized rising, rising-falling or falling tone. Construction of intonation model of interrogative sentence is complicated by different types of questions: issue of new information, alternative questions, rhetorical question and so on.

e.g. Ти сьогодні добре \попрацював, чи не /так?

Intonational contour of persuasive sentence is determined by the rising-falling. This type of sentence is also ambiguous - it can be order, demand, offer, request, and advice and so on.

e.g. Вона має /негайно покинути це \приміщення!

The function of modality (функція модальності) expression of the speaker's attitude to what is said.

e.g. Мені це /дуже сподобалося.

Emotional function (емоційна функція) expression through speaker's mental state, and providing emotional expression values.

e.g. Не можу повірити що він так \вчинив.

Excretory function (видільна функція) it is in intonational separation certain parts of the statement, for example, main compared to minor through information terms.

e.g. Мені потрібно поговорити саме з тобою!

Constructive function. (конструктивна функція) thanks intonation means segmental parts of the speech form expressions.


So we looked through the main functions of intonation in English as well as in Ukrainian language. Also we outlined the main components of the intonation. And we can make a conclusion that intonation as the most important component of any language has complex of functions.

First of all intonation creates from words the whole phrases and statements. It can divide statement for minimal informational parts - semantic groups and organize them, show relations and connections between elements of any phrase. Intonation change concern of statements to the facts of reality. Moreover intonation can differentiate statements of the same lexico-grammatical structure according to their utterance. And at last intonation distinguish emotionally-modal shades of the utterance.

As we see intonation plays a great role in communication but it still needs to be investigated.

intonation grammatical ukrainian


1) Бурая Е.А., Галочкина И.Е., Шевченко Т.И. Фонетика современного английского языка. Теоретический курс. - М., 2006.

2) Gussenhoven C. On the Grammar and Semantics of Sentence Accents // Publications in Language Sciences. - Dortrecht, 1987. - Vol. 16

3) Ladd D.R. Intonational Phonology // Cambridge Studies in Linguistics. - Cambridge, 1996. - Vol. 79

4) Багмут А.Й., Борисюк І.В., Олійник Г.П., Плющ Н.П. Типологія інтонації мовлення. - К., 1977. - С. 405;

5) Прокопова Л.І. Тональні акценти у німецькій та українській мовах - вступ до контрастивного вивчення просодичних систем // Нариси з контрактивної лінгвістики. - К., 1979.

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