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Functions of Prosody

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The Constitutive Function

(unifies words into utterances, the main communicative units)

Constituting an utterance prosody at the same time performs the segmentative and delimitative function

(segments connected discourse into utterances and intonation groups, simultaneously delimits utterances and intonation groups one from another showing relations between them and signals the semantic nucleus and other semantically important words of an utterance or an intonation group).

The Distinctive Function

manifests itself in several particular functions depending on the meaning which is differentiated:

*communicative-distinctive

(prosody differentiates the communicative types of utterances, statements, questions, exclamations, imperatives e.g. ̀Fire! (statement)

́Fire? (question)

* modal (attitudinal)-distinctive

(prosody differentiates modal meanings of utterances and the speaker’s attitudes

e.g. ٧Thank you! (friendly attitude)

* culminative (logical)-distinctive

(prosody differentiates the location of the semantic nuclei of utterances and other semantically important words; prosody indicates the “theme-rheme” organization of an utterance):

e.g. The 'teacher (theme) has ̀come (rheme)

The ̀teacher (rheme) has ֽcome (theme)

*syntactical-distinctive

(prosody differentiates syntactical types of sentences and syntactical relations in sentences):

e.g. Smiling (attribute) Tom ǁ entered the room

Smiling (adverbial modifier of manner) ǁ Tom entered the room

*stylistic-distinctive

(prosody differentiates pronunciation (phonetic) styles, determined by extra linguistic factors)

The Identificatory Function of Prosody

(prosody provides a basis for the hearer's identification of the communicative and modal type of an utterance, its semantic and syntactical structure with the situation of the discourse)

Bilingualism and Prosodic Interference

The practice of alternate use of two languages is called bilingualism.

Bilingualism may be acquired "naturally" and "artificially", as a result of foreign language learning (the so called "classroom" bilingualism).



The major manifestation of bilingualism is interference. Language interference is a process and a result of the interaction and mutual influence of the language systems being in contact.

Interference takes place on all the levels of language (phonetic, grammatical and lexical). On the phonetic level there are two types of interference: phonemic and prosodic.


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