What is intonation, and how do English speakers use it?

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In linguistics, intonation refers to a change in the pitch, timing, or volume of speech in order to signal an intent of the speaker's. Intonation can provide the attitude or emotion of the speaker, emphasize specific words or parts of sentences, and differentiate between statements and questions. English speakers most...

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In linguistics, intonation refers to a change in the pitch, timing, or volume of speech in order to signal an intent of the speaker's. Intonation can provide the attitude or emotion of the speaker, emphasize specific words or parts of sentences, and differentiate between statements and questions.

English speakers most commonly use intonation by stressing words or syllables within a word. One way intonation in English expresses meaning is by expressing the attitude of the speaker; for example, ending a question on a fall in pitch, rather than the typical rise in pitch, expresses a more demanding and less friendly attitude. Intonation can also be a sign of when a speaker has finished; individuals conversing with each other typically express that they have finished speaking by lowering pitch and reducing volume at the end of a sentence.

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