Intonation (linguistics)

Global rise
Global fall
IPA Number510
Entity (decimal)↗​↘
Unicode (hex)U+2197 U+2198

In linguistics, intonation is the variation in pitch used to indicate the speaker's attitudes and emotions, to highlight or focus an expression, to signal the illocutionary act performed by a sentence, or to regulate the flow of discourse. For example, the English question "Does Maria speak Spanish or French?" is interpreted as a yes-or-no question when it is uttered with a single rising intonation contour, but is interpreted as an alternative question when uttered with a rising contour on "Spanish" and a falling contour on "French". Although intonation is primarily a matter of pitch variation, its effects almost always work hand-in-hand with other prosodic features. Intonation is distinct from tone, the phenomenon where pitch is used to distinguish words (as in Mandarin) or to mark grammatical features (as in Kinyarwanda).

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