Intonational Encoding of Given and New Information in the Warri Sub-variety of Nigerian Pidgin English

Eunice Fajobi, Omobolanle Taiwo


The concept of given and new information is innate to discourse intonation. The concept expounds on the idea that intonation is used to regulate conversational behaviour of interlocutors by ensuring that a listener pays attention to those important aspects of the message being passed across by a speaker. Thus, the listener’s interpretation of the encoded message is pivoted on the F0 direction whose trajectory may be falling or rising in tune. The rising tune signals given or shared information while the falling tune is reserved for what constitutes a new information between the participants. Dwelling on Brazil’s (1997) and Chun’s (2002) Discourse Intonation (DI) model and using Praat for the acoustic analysis in this study, we extract data from the natural speech of 10 speakers of Warri sub-variety of Nigerian Pidgin English (NPE) to investigate and describe the patterns of intonation used in the variety to convey given and new information in selected “wh-” and “yes/no” interrogatives. Findings reveal a preponderance preference for Brazil’s proclaiming tone for the grammatical categories investigated.

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