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Book: Approaches to Systemic Functional Grammar

Chapter: 11. Intonation in Semantic System Networks

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.34284


This chapter is a personal review of the functions of intonation in the grammar and discourse of English speakers. It offers an extension to Halliday’s classic statement (Halliday 1967, 1970) and also reflects recent innovations in intonation that have been widely reported. It also takes into account Fawcett’s categories of meaning, or ‘functional components’ (Fawcett 1980), which are found useful as a basis for displaying six separately identifiable functions that intonation performs in English: the identification of spoken genres, phonological paragraphing, the organization of information, communicative (discourse) functions, the expression of attitude and the disambiguation of identically worded clauses. It concludes with a general statement about the neat association between the categories themselves and the subsystems of intonation.

Chapter Contributors

  • Paul Tench ( - ptench) 'Centre for Language and Communication Research, Cardiff University.'