Phonostylistic. Stylistic use of intonation. Intonational (phonetic) styles and their principles.

Phonostylistic is concerned with the study of phonetic phenomena and processes from the stylistic point of view. It cropped up as a result of a certain amount of functional overlap between phonetics and stylistics.

Intonation plays a central role in stylistic differentiation of oral texts. Stylistically explicable deviations from intonational norms reveal conventional patterns differing from language to language.

The uses of intonation show that the information so conveyed is, in many cases, impossible to separate from lexical and grammatical meanings expressed by words and constructions in a language (verbal context) and from the co-occurring situational information (non-verbal context). The meaning of intonation cannot be judged in isolation. However, intonation does not usually correlate in any neat one-for-one way with the verbal context accompanying and the situational variables in an extra-linguistic context. Moreover, the perceived contrast with the intonation of the previous utterance seems to be relevant.

One of the objectives of phonostylistics is the study of intonational functional styles. There are 5 style categories:

1. informational (formal) style;

2. scientific (academic) style;

3. declamatory style;

4. publicistic style;

5. familiar (conversational) style

Informational (formal) style is characterised by the predominant use of intellectual intonation patterns. It occurs in formal discourse where the task set by the sender of the message is to communicate information without giving it any emotional or volitional evaluation. This intonational style is used, for instance, by radio and television announcers when reading weather forecasts, news, etc. or in various official situations. It is considered to be stylistically neutral.

In scientific (academic) style intellectual and volitional (or desiderative) intonation patterns are concurrently employed. The speaker's purpose here is not only to prove a hypothesis, to create new concepts, to disclose relations between different phenomena, etc., but also to direct the listener's attention to the message carried in the semantic component. Although this style tends to be objective and precise, it is not entirely unemotional and devoid of any individuality. Scientific intonational style is frequently used, for example, by university lecturers, schoolteachers, or by scientists in formal and informal discussions.

In declamatory style the emotional role of intonation increases, thereby intonation patterns used for intellectual, volitional and emotional purposes have an equal share. The speaker's aim is to appeal simultaneously to the mind, the will and feelings of the listener by image-bearing devices. Declamatory style is generally acquired by special training and it is used, for instance, in stage speech, classroom recitation, verse-speaking or in reading aloud fiction.

Publicistic style is characterized by predominance of volitional (or desiderative) intonation patterns against the background of intellectual and emotional ones. The general aim of this intonational style is to exert influence on the listener, to convince him that the speaker's interpretation is the only correct one and to cause him to accept the point of view expressed in the speech. The task is accomplished not merely through logical argumentation but through persuasion and emotional appeal. For this reason publicistic style has features in common with scientific style, on the one hand, and declamatory style, on the other. As distinct from the latter its persuasive and emotional appeal is achieved not by the use of imagery but in a more direct manner. Publicistic style is made resort to by political speech-makers, radio and television commentators, participants of press conferences and interviews, counsel and judges in courts of law, etc.

The usage of familiar (conversational) style is typical of the English of everyday life. It occurs both within a family group and in informal external relationships, namely, in the speech of intimate friends or well-acquainted people. In such cases it is the emotional reaction to a situational or verbal stimulus that matters, thereby the attitude- and emotion-signalling function of intonation here comes to the fore. Nevertheless intellectual and volitional intonation patterns also have a part to play. In informal fluent discourse there are examples of utterance where the effect of intellectual intonation is neutralized.


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