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The Intonation of English 'Yes-No' Questions: Two Studies Compared and Synthesized

David P. Harris
TESOL Quarterly
Vol. 5, No. 2 (Jun., 1971), pp. 123-127
DOI: 10.2307/3585994
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3585994
Page Count: 5
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The Intonation of English 'Yes-No' Questions: Two Studies Compared and Synthesized
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Abstract

This paper summarizes two studies of the intonation patterns of English yes-no questions. These studies were based on the analysis of informal, spontaneous speech occurring on radio and/or television programs and followed similar analytical procedures, yet they produced different results. The tentative conclusion proposed to explain these differences is based on dissimilarities in the corpuses upon which the analyses were made: when native speakers are asked a succession of yes-no questions to draw out specific information, falling intonation predominates; whereas when these questions occur only intermittently in extended discourse, rising intonation is definitely favored.

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