Intonation Contours

  • Douglas Oliver
Part of the Language, Discourse, Society book series (LDS)


A method will now be established for comparing the intonation contours of different readers of verse. Lines by the Tudor poet, Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–42) will illustrate the kinds of problem that arise because Tudor pronunciation would not always have been that of a modern reader and because Wyatt seems to have composed by respecting the spoken rhythms of his verse rather than by observing, here, a more formal iambic pattern. Shortly after him, the iambic pentameter became more regular under influence from the Earl of Surrey and later Tudor and Elizabethan Humanists, as Jones has usefully described.1 This may make it difficult for inexperienced readers to judge intonation so exactly as in a tighter metrics.

So unwarely was never no man caught With steadfast look upon a goodly face As I of late; for suddenly me thought My heart was torn out of his place.


Good Reader Emotional Significance Pitch Height Modern Reader Target Reader 
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Copyright information

© Douglas Oliver 1989

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  • Douglas Oliver

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