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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce intonation (audio)

Dictionary definition of intonation

The rise and fall of pitch and tone in speech, which can convey meaning, emotion, and emphasis.
"The teacher's flat intonation made the lecture seem dull."

Detailed meaning of intonation

Intonation plays an important role in language, as it can alter the meaning of a sentence or phrase even if the words themselves remain the same. For example, a rising intonation at the end of a sentence can indicate a question, while a falling intonation can indicate a statement or command. Additionally, intonation can convey a range of emotions, from excitement and enthusiasm to skepticism or frustration. In some languages, such as Mandarin Chinese, intonation can even distinguish between words that would otherwise be pronounced the same way. Overall, intonation is a crucial aspect of spoken communication, as it allows speakers to convey nuance and meaning beyond the literal words they use.

Example sentences containing intonation

1. She used a rising intonation to indicate uncertainty in her voice.
2. The actor's skillful intonation conveyed the emotional depth of the character.
3. His sarcastic intonation was not lost on the audience.
4. The singer's pitch-perfect intonation gave the song an extra dimension of beauty.
5. The foreigner's incorrect intonation led to misunderstandings in conversation.
6. The child's exaggerated intonation made her story even more entertaining.

History and etymology of intonation

The noun 'intonation' has its roots in Latin, specifically from the word 'intonare,' which is a combination of 'in,' meaning 'in' or 'upon,' and 'tonus,' meaning 'tone' or 'sound.' In Latin, 'intonare' originally referred to the act of singing or chanting in a melodious or tuneful manner. Over time, as language developed, 'intonation' came to represent not only the musical aspect of voice but also the rise and fall of pitch and tone in speech. This rise and fall in pitch can convey nuances of meaning, emotion, and emphasis in spoken language. Therefore, 'intonation' carries with it the etymological connection to the notion of producing sound with variation in tone, which plays a crucial role in the expressiveness and communication of spoken words.

Quiz: Find the meaning of intonation

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Further usage examples of intonation

1. The politician's confident intonation inspired his supporters.
2. The news anchor's dramatic intonation added gravitas to the broadcast.
3. The language learner struggled with the correct intonation of unfamiliar words.
4. The comedian's playful intonation made even serious topics seem lighthearted.
5. The public speaker's steady intonation commanded attention and respect.
6. Her confident intonation conveyed authority in her speech.
7. His enthusiastic intonation brimmed with infectious joy.
8. Intonation plays a pivotal role in interpreting messages.
9. Subtle intonation shifts can reveal underlying skepticism.
10. Mastering proper intonation enhances communication significantly.
11. The empathetic intonation of his voice touched our hearts.
12. A shift in intonation can completely alter sentence meaning.
13. She skillfully used intonation to emphasize key ideas.
14. Uncertain intonation left room for doubt in his message.
15. Emotionally charged intonation amplifies message impact.
16. Misinterpreting intonation often leads to misunderstandings.
17. Her intonation subtly hinted at her concealed emotions.
18. The rising intonation at the end signaled an inquiry.
19. Intonation's richness enriches spoken language depth.
20. His monotone intonation suggested indifference throughout.
21. Effective intonation is a powerful tool in persuasion.
22. Linguists study intonation patterns across languages.
23. The rhythmic intonation of his speech entranced listeners.
24. Intonation nuances differ vastly among language varieties.
25. Mastering proper intonation is pivotal for public speakers.
26. Intonation artfully adds layers of emotion to storytelling.
27. Her cheerful intonation radiated positivity in the room.
28. Intonation deftly conveys subtleties like irony and sarcasm.
29. The phonetics class delved into the intricacies of intonation.
30. Misplaced intonation can inadvertently change intentions.



cadence, monotone, flatness, unvarying


SAT 12 (Scholastic Assessment Test), Dialogue and Articulation, Discussion and Argumentation

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