7. // --> ONE country two SYStems //: The discourse intonation patterns of word associations
This study examines the relationship between the phraseological characteristics of language and the communicative role of discourse intonation (Brazil 1997). The findings are based on one of the four sub-corpora of the one-million-word Hong Kong Corpus of Spoken English (HKCSE), which has been prosodically transcribed. A number of studies have looked at word associations, but this is the first corpus-based study of speakers’ discourse intonation choices for these patterns. The intonational features, viz. tone unit boundaries and prominences, of the ten most frequent 3- and 4-lexically-rich word associations and the ten most frequent grammatically-rich word associations in the sub-corpus of public discourse, which forms 25% of the HKCSE, were examined to determine the extent to which this patterning also reveals patterns of discourse intonation. The findings suggest that discourse intonation patterns do exist in terms of tone unit boundaries and the distribution of prominence. However, while discourse intonation patterns are discernible, speakers may, and indeed do, deviate from them in order to alter their discourse-specific communicative role.