The intonation system in Spanish
Up to this point, we have discussed two errors you were corrected for in learning the basic sentences: UNSTRESSED VOWELS and SYLLABLE STRESS. The third problem which occurs from the very beginning and will be with you to mar your Spanish for a very long time is INTONATION: the rise and fall of the pitch of the voice. We have indicated this by placing our accent marks at three different heights over the vowel:
Low pitch: directly over the vowel
Middle pitch: one space above the vowel
High pitch: two spaces above the vowel
All three in sequence look like this:
These are analogous to steps in a musical scale:
In addition to these various levels of pitch, there may be a slight rise or a slight fall fall after the last pitch, or it may remain level .
It will be evident to you that all of the mistaken patterns of the right-hand column above are attributable to some very common pattern that such utterances have in English. A few of the common non-Spanish interference patterns that English sets up are these:
The only way to get these (and other) English patterns out of your way in talking Spanish is by the correct repetition of Spanish patterns as often that they automatically replace the English ones when they are supposed to. The following exercise is directed toward that end.
A. Exercises on contrasting intonation patterns
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