Intonation and Its Parts: Melody in Spoken English (Hardcover)

Intonation and Its Parts: Melody in Spoken English By Dwight Bolinger Cover Image

Intonation and Its Parts: Melody in Spoken English (Hardcover)


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"It's not what she said, it's the way that she said it," is a complaint we have all heard (or made) some time or another. What does it refer to? It obviously relates to the various forms of wordless communication, but especially to the speaker's use of intonation—the rise and fall of the pitch of the voice—to convey sarcasm or resignation, anger or apprehension, or any of scores of other moods. In this summation of over forty years of investigation and reflection, the author analyzes the nature, variety and utility of intonation, using some 700 examples from everyday English speech.

The work looks at both accent (pitch shift that points up individual words) and overall configurations (melodies that shape the meaning of whole sentences). It shows that most easily understood utterances employ one or another of a surprisingly small stock of basic melodies, and it shows both intonation and visible gesture to be parts of a larger complex that conveys grammatical as well as emotional information.

Though it is one of the major divisions of the science of linguistics, intonation is of great interest to others outside of linguistics—to actors and lawyers who must use the voice to assert, to downplay, or to emote; to English teachers as an essential ingredient of idiomatic speech; to musicians for its many common elements in music theory; and to psychologists and anthropologists as a gauge of emotional tension and a clue to behavior.

Dwight Bolinger is Professor Emeritus of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University.
Product Details ISBN: 9780804712415
ISBN-10: 0804712417
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication Date: June 1st, 1985
Pages: 436
Language: English
"Bolinger has undertaken to integrate the themes of four decades' work into a coherent, consistent whole. . . . Its major states purpose is to give non-linguists a serious introduction to how intonation works in English this, writes Bolinger in his preface, 'is too important a subject to e left just to linguists.' In keeping with this goal, the book is written in a readable, non-technical style—though one would have expected pleasing prose from Bolinger in any case. . . . The widespread acceptance of certain of Bolinger's views has meant that they have in some way been taken from a larger context that he would like us not to lose sight of. Intonation and Its Parts is a clear and comprehensive statement of that overall theoretical vision."
—D. Robert Ladd

"The major book on intonation, by the doyen of the subject."
The Year's Work in English Studies

"Bolinger's constructive criticism of pretty well every major theory of intonation since the Second World War has helped immeasurably in the subject's progress. Now at last he has put all his ideas about intonation into a book. . . . The book is written in a very accessible style, and has thousands of well-chosen examples of intonational form and function."
—David Crystal
,The Times Literary Supplement