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Unit 19 Intonation of Conversational Formulas

Conversational formulas include Greetings, Farewells, Apologies and Expressions of Gratitude as well as phrases typically used in response to them.

Conversational formulas play an important role in communication. They help to establish or to keep up the contact between the speaker and the listener and are regarded as an obligatory part of the social norms of speech communication.

According to their function in speech, conversational formulas can be defined as formulas of politeness. However, the degree of politeness may vary. It depends on the sphere of communication and the speaker's personal attitude to the situation and the listener. The difference in the degree, or intensity, of politeness can be signalled by intonation:

e.g.: 1. — I've found your gloves. Here they are.

— Oh, vthank you.

2. — Here is your change.

-Oh, thank you.

According to the degree of politeness expressed, it is possible to divide conversational formulas of all types into 3 broad groups: normal (neutral), friendly (very polite, warm, lively), casual (perfunctory).

The common feature of all friendly formulas is that they are pronounced with a Falling-Rising tone (Undivided or Divided), preceded by a high level or a sliding head (if there is any):

e.g.: Thanks a lot.


I'm really very vsorry.

All casual formulas take a Low-Rising tone preceded by a low prenuclear part (prehead or head). Such phrases are used between people on familiar terms, who meet regularly, or in a situation where the expression of gratitude or apology is but a mere formality:

e.g.: Ha llo.

Not at all.

That's all right.


Normal Greetings, Expressions of Gratitude and Apologies are characterized by the Falling nuclear tone, generally combined with a high level or stepping head and low or high prehead. Conversational formulas called normal (neutral) are suitable in various kinds of situations.. Depending on the wording and the speaker's voice-colouring they may sound sincere and serious or formal and brisk:

e.g.: 'Thanks a 'lot for your help, Mary.
I'm 'sorry I'm late.

'How do you do, Miss Brown.

Good morning, children.

Normal Farewells, unlike the above mentioned formulas, are pronounced with a Lоw-Rise preceded by a high prenuclear pitch:

e.g.: Good- bye. 'So long.

The same pattern is typical of the commonly used informal greeting "Hallo":

e.g: Ha llo, Mary.

It must be noted that some of the formulas tend to be pronounced with one pattern more frequently than with any other. Thus, "Excuse me" used initially in a conversation most typically has a Falling-Rising tone:

e.g.: — Excuse me. Can you 'show me the way to the 'nearest ho tel?
"Pardon", when used interrogatively, is always said with a High Rise:

e.g.: - Who's that boy?
- Pardon?

- I'm asking you about that boy.


Ex. 1 Listen to 3 groups of conversational formulas. Identify the tunes they are pronounced with and imitate them. Note that the identical types of conversational formulas in groups 1, 2, 3 are different in the speaker's attitude.


1 'Good morning! Good 'after noon! I'm 'sorry in deed. 'Thank you very much. I'm 'terribly sorry. 'Thanks a lot for you kindness. 'Good evening. I should 'like to 'say how grateful I |am. 'How do you do?

2 I'm awfully sorry. Good vmorning, Jane. Excuse me, sir. That was really very kind of you. Good vnight, Bob. I'll be 'looking forward to vseeing you soon. See you later. Cheerio. 'Thank you so much.

3 Hallo, Jane. Hallo, Linda. Sorry. Bye- bye. Good- bye for now. I'll be seeing you. Pardon. 'Many thanks. So long. Hi. Morning.


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Ex. 2 Complete the following situations with imperatives pronounced as | 

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