When we speak, we tend to speak in ‘chunks’ – small groups of words. Each chunk has its own change in intonation and there is usually a brief pause before the next chunk. We call these chunks ‘tone units’ and these units appears to be one of the basic building blocks of speech. A tone unit is the minimum unit of speech which can carry intonation. It is typically a few words in length but can be a single word or syllable. Other terms for this unit are ‘intonational unit’ or ‘foot group’.
Difference Between Pitch and Tone
The difference between pitch and tone is very small and not easy to understand. Don’t worry if you still don’t understand after reading this – it will take some time before you do. Pitch is proportional to the fundamental frequency (F0) of a sound. However, pitch refers to how the human mind perceives (hears) the sound whereas frequency is an objective measurement that we can make with an instrument. The human auditory system is actually very sensitive to changes in pitch and pitch is one of the prime factors in creating perceived stress.
Pitch Dynamism Quotient is a measure of the variation a speaker has in the pitch of their voice over a length of speech. It can be considered as a measure of the ‘liveliness’ (Hincks, 2004) a speaker puts into their voice when making an oral presentation.
Pitch variation can be measured using the standard deviation, but since males and females normally have different pitch registers, a normalised value of the deviation is necessary in order to make valid comparisons.
When making an oral presentation, a skilled presenter will use the full pitch range in order to structure and segment their monologue. Pitch can be useful in a presentation to highlight, among other things, the division of the talk into spoken paragraphs (paratones). Less skilled presenters often use a narrower pitch range which gives them less headroom in which to show these divisions.
So, you’ve chosen to do Language in the Mind for your final year in university. (Either that or it was one of the mandatory modules you had to do if you chose the Language and Literature route). Good for you. I mean that with the most sincerity. There is a lot of work to be done in this module; a lot of reading will take up your time, but it is definitely one of the most intriguing modules I’ve done in my years here and has shown just how complex our minds really are.
It only took a two-week course to discover how a journey outside my country can change me, my views and my perspectives towards many things in life and how much I am fortunate to be a part of sweet eternal memories and experiences that have empowered me for the rest of my life.
I am here in Britain for the summer school experience in Coventry and I really got impressed to see that some topics are universal. I have known through my linguistics courses in France that the body language could be, in some way, a national way to express ourselves. But sometimes some gesture will not convey the same message according to the country from which you are coming from. Just to give you an example, I met a girl from Czech Republic and we had this little talk about how to wish for luck. In France we cross the fingers and in her country they just do a fist and shake it.
Being in front of number of people, presenting a topic in any area is a piece of art that you must be trained enough to succeed in. A successful presenter is a person who really attracts you from the first word that come out of their mouth, the first gesture they attempt to do and from the first communication you have with them.
My name is Maria and I am an Erasmus student from Spain. This year I have been studying at Coventry University, this means that I have had to attend to classes which are taught in English, as well as the assignments. Because of this, I have had to work with English students and do my presentations in English. At this point, I would like to share with you my experience, and see if this can help other Erasmus students in order to be prepared when coming to study to Coventry.
After a presentation, there is usually a period of time when the audience is able to ask you questions. It is important during this time that you:
- stay professional
- don’t relax too much
- answer the questions to the best of your ability
The presentation is still being observed and marked by the tutor; your performance during question time can have an effect on your final grade.