For approximately one century, the study of intonation has attracted a great deal of scholarly attention, despite the notorious difficulty to analyse by ear this evasive property of spoken language. Probably, the chief impetus to this long-standing effort stems from the conviction that speech melody has a particular communicative value. Indeed, individual speech sounds do not carry an intrinsic meaning of their own, whereas intonation and other prosodic features seemingly add something to the content of a message that is not already expressed in the semantics of its individual words, nor in their syntactic relations. Therefore, most intonation studies were to be found originally in traditional linguistics. However, even if intonation did not serve some communicative purpose, it would still be necessary to study in detail the melodic structure of utterances if one wants to design rules for the automatic control of fundamental frequency in the electronic synthesis of speech. Therefore, the study of intonation is also relevant for present-day speech technology.
Bibliographic reference. Collier, René (1989): "Intonation analysis: the perception of speech melody in relation to acoustics and production", In EUROSPEECH-1989, 1038-1044.