Intonation in the grammar of English

Intonation in the grammar of English. By M. A. K. Halliday and William S. Greaves. London: Equinox, 2008, Pp. 256. ISBN 9781904768159. $24.95.

Reviewed by Reda A. H. Mahmoud, Minya University, Egypt

Intonation in the grammar of English is primarily concerned with English as an integrated system of four strata: meanings created by the language system, forms matched to those meanings by lexicogrammatical patterns, phonological patterning of these forms, and phonetic substance through which the phonological patterns are uttered and perceived. In terms of systemic functional theory, the authors deal with the intonation system of English as a patterning within the above four consistent strata to achieve three meanings: the textual meaning, interpersonal meaning, and ideational meaning. To describe the intonation system of English in terms of these strata, the book consists of three parts that examine: speech sounds as the phonetic/phonological resources that construct different meanings, the role of intonation in English in relation to textual, interpersonal, and ideational metafunctions, and real spoken texts.

Part 1 introduces different ways of thinking about speech sounds in physical, biological, engineering, and linguistic terms. It also discusses significant technical and experimental approaches to the description and analysis of speech sounds: analysis-through-resynthesis (the Institute for Perception approach), tone and break indices, metrical phonology, and optimality theory. Such modern computer-based techniques of analysis and representation provide accurate information about how intonation contributes to constructing different meanings. The processes in which sound represents meaning and meaning is perceived are presented step by step through graphs and recorded examples on an integrated CD with this book.

Part 2 clarifies how intonation contributes to textual, interpersonal, experiential, and logical meanings. It begins by providing the basic taxonomy of English intonation to show how tonality (the organization of discourse as a successivity of tone units) and tonicity (the organization of each tone unit around a particular point of prominence) create textual meaning. The systematic relation of the tone system with mood and modality systems is discussed to reveal a large network of potential interpersonal meanings. Intonation and the ideational metafunction focuses on experiential and logical components to argue that tone sequences construe logical meanings, while intonation plays no part in the realization of experiential meanings in English. Part 2 concludes with a detailed demonstration of how sound makes meaning through the full analysis of a microtext.

Part 3 to illustrates the four metafunctions of intonation on the semantic and the lexicogrammatical levels, followed by short audio texts with detailed commentary. It is a summary or a checklist of the principal systems of informational grammar and their realization by intonation.