This is a
local copy of: http://www.eptotd.btinternet.co.uk/pow/powin.htm
What is prosody?
Prosody and intonation
cover much the same ground; as an overall term is needed,
prosody will be used. Technical terms are given in bold
and explained in the surrounding text.
We distinguish between prosodic functions
(what the prosody does) and prosodic forms
(what the prosody is).
The functions of prosody are many and fascinating. Where
speech-sounds such as vowels and consonants function
mainly to provide an indication of the identity of words
and the regional variety of the speaker, prosody can indicate syntax,
conversational interactions, types of utterance such as
questions and statements, and people's attitudes and
feelings. They can also indicate word-identity (although
only occasionally, in English). We will treat a few
well-defined prosodic functions such as chunking and
The forms (or elements) of prosody are derived from the
acoustic characteristics of speech. They include the
pitch or frequency, the length or duration, and the
loudness or intensity. All these forms are present in
varying quantities in every spoken utterance. The varying
quantities help determine the function to which listeners
orient themselves in interpreting the utterance. The
screens in the tutorials on prosodic forms are designed
to attune your ear to these varying degrees of presence.
There are three tutorials for you to try:
- An introduction to chunking
- An introduction to focus