Saturday, 28 July 2012

Intonation of Colloquial English

1st ed.
2nd ed.
 In 1961 Joseph Desmond O'Connor and Gordon Frederick Arnold jointly published Intonation of Colloquial English (Longmans) bearing the subtitle A Practical Handbook (/hæmbʊk/). In said book they offered a set of ten tone groups based on six tunes. The authors recorded samples of their illustrative sentences on four 7" gramophone records.

A 2nd edition came out in 1973, this time the recordings were sold on magnetic tape. A seventh tune was added (see the table below).


1st ed.
2nd ed.
low fall
low fall

high fall
high fall

rise-fall
rise-fall

low ris
low rise

high rise
high rise

fall-rise
fall-rise



mid-level

There are various combinations of single tunes and - what the authors call - heads and tails which themselves consist of various subtypes. A combination of a tune and various heads or tails that conveys the same attitude of the speaker is called a Tone Group. O'Connor and Arnold come up with ten such tone groups, which are given fairly abstract names in the 1st edition. To make them easier to memorise these groups receive new names in the 2nd edition:


1st ed.
2nd ed.
tone group 1
Low Drop
tone group 2
High Drop
tone group 3
Take-Off
tone group 4
Low Bounce
tone group 5
Switchback
tone group 6
Long Jump
tone group 7
High Bounce
tone group 8
Jackknife
tone group 9
High Dive
tone group 10
Terrace

It won't take you long to find both the sound files of the 2nd edition and a copy of the book on the internet.

2 comments:

  1. I love this book (It took me years to get the tape). And John Wells's English Intonation helped me to understand some issues that I didn't seem to be able to make out. So thanks, Mr O'Connor, Mr Arnold and Mr Wells!
    And thank you too, my dear fellow, for your good taste.

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    Replies
    1. @B_P_: Thanks for your compliment! I bought the first ed. (without the records) when I still was a student. The scan of the cover you see in my blog post is taken from that very copy.

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