Research article
Issue: № 3 (7), 2016


The article describes the features of prosodic organization of tropes in spontaneous public speech, identified on the basis of empirical research, and analyzes the role of melody and intonema in the understanding of tropes, determines the value of a pause in the formation and perception of tropes, and studies the effect of prosodic factors on the interpretation of tropes.

The research of tropes has a long and rich history - from considering it as a semantic, stylistic, semantic and phonetic verbal phenomena to representation of pun and a part of "expressive syntax." In our study, we consider tropes  as lingvosemiotic signs resulting from the implementation of natural and artificial semiosis products.

The assumption that there are certain principles of tropes sound arrangement became a private hypothesis of this part of our research. In our opinion, their successful creation and comprehension  are facilitated by pausation and intonation, with which each trope is uttered.  In addition, in the selection of the material, we proceeded from the thesis that the tropes operating in the  oral unprepared public speech  is a lingvosemiotic sign in which the correlation between the sign representaments of mental categories of objects/environmental phenomena of reality, belonging to different fields of knowledge, but between which the individual establishes a sufficiently stable connection fixed in language. This specific cognitive algorithm of trope sense formation has a concessive character. The increase of pun semiotic potential is due to the active use of the analytical capabilities of metaphor, manifesting the products of cognitive operations at the linguistic level.

All the tropes extracted from the spontaneous oral speech have been transferred into audio format. The scripts were analyzed in the form of graphs, made in the program Speech Analyser 3.1. After obtaining the necessary charts we used descriptive research method. The dominant method is a nomothetic methodology developed by us [1], with an intuitive allocation of language units and mixing the latter into an aggregate.

The main objectives of this part of the experiment are:

-  to study of  functioning of phonetic tropes in oral public speech;

- to analyze the role of melodema and intonema in the comprehension of tropes;

- to determine the value of pausation in the formation and comprehension of tropes;

- to study  the influence of prosodic factors on the trope interpretation.

An important thing noted in the empirical material is a clear prosodic pattern in the use of the trope. We noted that the investigated phenomenon puts various voice parameters in action (e.g., melodic curve pause before or after the trope,  change of tempo, speed, tone, pitch).

The material for the study were scripts of oral spontaneous speech, and their graphical representation. Scripts were made while viewing analytical broadcasts Channel One (Russia), НТВ (Russia), the BBC (UK), the CNN (USA), Deutsche Welle (Germany).

It can be noted that the material provided for the viewers of various channels, contains more and more tropes, and their concentration varies depending on the style of the channel as a whole, as well as the plot of the material. Reports of acts of terrorism, wars, accidents are so emotional and tragic, that none of the central Russian TV channels uses additional images. However, the events that are seemingly distant from the average Russian, are usually framed by additional imagery, which aims to appeal to mere human feelings, which help to encourage accessible and clear auxiliary images. At the present moment, the political community is concerned about the results of the British referendum on the withdrawal from the United Europe. According to the results of the referendum, the UK should withdraw from the European Union, such a move Western press called Brexit. Brexit term is being widely used not only in Europe but also in Russia, where the political situation in Europe is under scrutiny. НТВ uses a metaphor to emphasize the danger of the proliferation of such separatist moods, comparing Brexit with an infection: "...<необходимо как можно скорее подписать необходимые документы> чтобы на другие страны не распространилась её <Великобритании> инфекция в виде Fexit или Grexit" [НТВ, 26.06.2016]. In this passage there is also a deliberate change of term: Fexit - from the English France + exit, Grexit - from the English Greece+ exit.

The acoustic parameters of the statements vary, there is an increase in intensity and rising tone on the metaphor "infection", and we note a significant intonation allocation of metaphors in a BBC correspondent speech using the same parameters: "... How to deal with the Brexit process, how to heal the EU..." [BBC, 29.06.2016]. 

In this statement we see the verb "to heal", which shows a comparison of the prevalence of the disease Brexit throughout Europe. A similar model of metaphor intonation arrangement is observed in the following sentence: "Brussels is known as the capital of compromise" [BBC, 29.06.2016].

The essence of the phenomena in the EU can be incomprehensible for a those, who is distant from politics, this is why so the First Channel uses detailed comparison of Brexit with a family quarrel: "Но давайте разберемся в простых и контактных образах. Все было как в семье: жили, радовались, терпели, пилили друг друга, но  жили, договаривались, а потом вдруг кто-то пересолил овсянку. И Британия вспылила: «Ухожу!» А Брюссель сгоряча: «Ну и уходи, процедуру выхода надо начать немедленно, пересматриваем 80 тысяч документов, подписанных с 1973 года». И оба замерли, не понимая, дальше - что? А дальше – неопределенность. Как-то надо делить детей, имущество, бизнес, друзей, встречаться на саммитах."  [Первый канал, 26.06.2016]. Further on: " Кэмерон, хотя его и не приглашали, скорее всего, приедет в Брюссель в среду. Там на него обрушится ярость и обида брошенного супруга. Впервые из ЕС уходят – до этого было обратное" [Первый канал, 26.06.2016] Considering the detailed comparison, the data intonation arrangement is very colorful. There is an increase in intensity attributable in the comparison element, accompanied by a falling tone. The question whether such a comparison will help explain politics to a regular citizen remains open, however, the situation is described in a quite comical way.

The UK exit from the EU is not a unanimous decision of all the inhabitants of the Kingdom, on the other hand, British society is very dissociated. To describe the mood in society not only Russian press uses tropes, but also the British: the antithesis, executed rising-falling tone, can be seen in the statement Michael Binion, columnist The Times, speaking about the divergence of views of London and the provinces : "Я вижу по-настоящему разъединённое королевство" [НТВ, 26.06.2016].

The referendum results resonated in the United States, the correspondent of НТВ describes the situation in the following way: "В Соединенных Штатах перспективу выхода Британии из Евросоюза рисовали в основном в  мрачных тонах. Америка явно боялась раскола единой Европы и его последствий, прежде всего для себя. Но бежать впереди паровоза и предсказывать результаты никто не спешил" [НТВ, 26.06.2016].  In this example, the intonation of tropes is carried out according to the rules of realization of final or nonfinal syntagma: the nonfinal syntagma is realized with rising tone, the final - with the falling tone. The pronunciation intensity of tropes is increased. The US television correspondent style is characterized by greater emotionality, supported by rich non-verbal language. Intonation labeling are subjected to not only the tropes, but also non-colored language units. Comparing the UK with the ship in the uncharted waters, CNN correspondent sums up the summit held in Brussels: "The UK will be sailing solo into uncharted waters" [CNN, 27.06.2016]. However, despite the fact that the syntagma The UK will be sailing solo is not the final one, the usage of final tone carrying the function of attracting the audience's attention is observed, followed by a pause of 0.9 seconds.

It should be noted that a comparison often used in description of family relationships is used in describing the relationship between countries, for example, such a comparison was used at the World Economic Forum, described by Channel One: "И тут с французской непринужденностью вмешался Саркози в понятных и близких ему образах: у вас с Украиной развод, Европа между вами, и тут Россия должна выступить по-мужски - отменить все свои ответные санкции и ждать взаимности. Корреспондент Первого канала слушал разговоры и пикировки и делал выводы, куда клонят участники этой семейно-политической дискуссии, если призывают Россию быть мужчиной" [Первый канал, 19.06.2016]. The similar comparison of the countries' breaking up with the divorce occurs in describing Brexit events, for example, a German correspondent of Deutsche Welle says: "It's like a divorce: Britain is set to leave the EU and they have to divide their belongings" [Deutsche Welle, 30.06.2016].

Not only political but also sport or, to be more exact, close-to-sport events are described in media with the help of tropeic means. In order to notice a large number of metaphors, let's consider the review of the riots after the Euro-2016 football match Russia vs. England: "Но ведь изначально было понятно: во Францию на чемпионат хлынет вся пена околофутбольная, со всей Европы, и мало не покажется никому", "У западной прессы, точно в фан-зоне на стадионе свои перформансы и кричалки. Российские хулиганы устроили хаос на Евро — вот оно, еще одно доказательство: Россия — агрессор, заговор Москвы!", "Конечно, уроки французского, точнее, все пробелы во французской организации с точки зрения безопасности наши полицейские, которые сейчас работают во Франции, берут на карандаш" [Первый канал, 19.06.2016].

As a result of our analysis, an increase in the pronunciation intensity and variety of nuclear tones, depending on the position of syntagma in the statement, is observed.

It is proved that any trope, regardless of spontaneity or preparedness of speech will have a special sound form.

These audio-script analysis suggests that the prosodic organization of tropes the pausation contributes to its successful creation, and later its understanding. Furthermore the intonation used in the pronunciation of  a particular trope has great importance in its interpretation. Melodic and rhythmical-accentual components are clearly noticed in the formation and understanding of the studied phenomenon.

In the oral form of public speech the analyzed phenomenon is verbalized with pauses in the background before and after it. We can state that pauses marking the tropes in the speech flow will be approximately the same (from a few tenths of a second to a few seconds). The length of such pauses depends on many factors (the theme, the situation of communication, etc.), including the longitudity of the process of signification and deciphering of the trope.

In addition, we have identified the following feature: at the time of creation of a trope the intonation rises and emotionality of the utterance increases. We emphasize that the melody of utterance doesn't remain constant while pronunciation of a trope, in particular, the most significant linguistic units of humorous utterance are marked with intonema.

Situational efficiency of tropes in public speech is based not only on the distinctive characteristics of the object or phenomenon, allowing to extrapolate signs from the context of everyday communication to the context of public discourse, but also on private demonstrations rhythmic-accentual component. A pause preceding the trope is much shorter than the follow-up pause, which probably leads to the conclusion concerning the time required to addresser to form statements. Due to the implementation of the spontaneity factor when creating a pun in oral speech, the speaker can take a pause to make sure whether the statement is appropriate or not and whether it is necessary to give an explanation.

Moreover, in situations when the speaker uses the tropeiс phrase, that can be decrypted  in certain situations as pun, due to an error or reservations, the first pause, previous to pun, lasts from 1,1 to 1,4 seconds, and a pause after saying - from 2,1 to 4,3 seconds. Perhaps, in this case, we can assume that the speaker is aware of his reservation, is to rethink the uttered in the context of the continuation of oral communication.

At the same time, the audio script analysis data indicate that in most cases in the oral spontaneous speech authors of puns do not focus the audience's attention on the mistakes or reservations and continue active speech.

Thus, the study of prosodic organization of tropes in oral public speech objectifies the importance of pausation and the role of melody and intonema in their formation and understanding. We emphasize that the emotive factor leads to an intonation change  in the process of pronouncing of an utterance with tropes.

Empirical data have confirmed that the tropes are individual dynamic phenomenon in the situation in the implementation of spontaneous oral public speech, they are a part of living knowledge, which includes professional and cultural knowledge, correlating with naive individual within the lexicon of a native speaker. They actualize the individual experience of readiness to operate a set of versatile prior experience products within the framework of natural and artificial semiosis on the background of the prominent manifestations rhythmical-accentual component of the statements.


  • Zubkova O. Metafora v professional’noj semiotike [Metaphor in professional semiotics]. – Kursk: Izd-vo KGU, 2011. [in Russian]