Analysis of Intonation Patterns of Selected Nigerian Bilingual Educated Speakers of English

  •  Emmanuela U. Asadu    
  •  Faith A. Okoro    
  •  Goodluck C. Kadiri    


The intelligibility of everyday speech is built on the mastery and the use of appropriate intonation patterns. This makes intonation the music of everyday speech of which its appropriate use has been the final hurdle that the majority of the speakers of English as a Second Language have not crossed. This paper investigated the intonation patterns of the randomly selected 45 bilingual educated speakers of English, from diverse educational backgrounds representing the three senatorial zones in Ebonyi State. A paragraph from Roach (2010) was given to the participants to read. It was recorded and converted to WAVE audio with the use of audio converter. The utterances of interest to the research were extracted with the use of Sony Sound Forge and segmented on a text grid window on Praat. Pierrehumbert’s Auto-segmental Metrical approach to intonation served as the theoretical framework and the transcription was done using ToBI. The study revealed a low level of proficiency in the use and assignment of accurate patterns of intonation in the speeches of the participants. Aside the widely known and commonly used intonation patterns of fall, rise, rise-fall and fall-rise, it was observed that there was the presence of the use of low pitch accent, low boundary tone in the speeches of the participants. Significant inclination towards the use of the falling tone was observed. However, bilingual make-up or educational qualification does not determine appropriate use of intonation patterns. In a bid to, therefore, account for effective communication among educated bilingual speakers of English, more time should be given to the development of this skill using meaningful utterances in context rather than the use of words or sentences in isolation.

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