Intonation in discourse : why do Czech speakers of English not always use it to enhance the meaning?

Název: Intonation in discourse : why do Czech speakers of English not always use it to enhance the meaning?
Zdrojový dokument: Brno studies in English. 2010, roč. 36, č. 1, s. [77]-94
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Článek
Licence: Neurčená licence

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This paper presents the results of a Ph.D. research project inspired by the observation that many Czech speakers of English, despite their proficiency in other areas, will still speak it with a clearly discernible foreign accent. A hypothesis was formulated that this might be due to certain intonation patterns transferred from the mother tongue rather than, for example, incorrect articulation of individual sounds. A large number of recorded English utterances of various Czech speakers have been subjected to a prosodic analysis with particular emphasis laid on the placement of the most prominent peak, i.e. the intonation centre (IC). The results provide ample evidence supporting the original hypothesis and lead to the conclusion that Czech speakers have a strong tendency to place the IC on the last item of an utterance, irrespective of the appropriateness of such a placement. Intonation plays a significant role in the information structure of utterances and as such has a role to play in discourse analysis too. In the present paper it is viewed with respect to the theory of functional sentence perspective (FSP), developed among others by Firbas, and is concerned with the distribution of information as determined by all meaningful elements, from intonation (for speech) to context.
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