The story of intonation

English is relatively a flat language. Listen to Makayla as she speaks English. Her English is *relatively* flat if you look at the sentence level. Occasionally intonation drops towards the end of a sentence or goes up if she seems emphasizing particular concepts. However, relatively speaking, her overall intonation is stable.

When she switches to Japanese, however, intonation fluctuates drastically at each sound, word or phrase levels. She is speaking Japanese with authentic feel to it.

Again, for eigonodo practitioners, I’ve been showing you how intonation does reside within each syllable, so you need to practice that. But this is not my point of the day. My point is that you don’t have to speak English with dramatic intonation.

Here is an example of purposefully exaggerated intonation. I think it wonderfully fits her personality and the theme of her program. I am just saying that Japanese learners of English should know that her drastic intonation is not really the norm, but she is using it to energize her show (I think). That is all I am saying. Her intonation is authentic, resembling that of NHK World Gaijin narrators.

If you watch this video and compare it to regular English spoken in English speaking countries, you will understand my point.

Now let’s turn to the fact that East Asian Languages are intonation driven. Listen to the famous North Korean TV anchor. Many Japanese learners believe that they need to use a lot of intonation in English because Japanese, like Korean and Chinese, is one of the high power intonation dynamite language. They unconsciously think what applies to Japanese applies to English.

Here is me and Mr. Ohmura speakingn relatively flat English. We only fluctuate intonation to achieve specific purposes, mostly indicating the end of a sentence or emphasizing some words.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.