A Review of Research into the Intonation of the Lithuanian Language

  • Gintautas Kundrotas
Keywords: intonation, experimental phonetics, intonation units, intonation system of the Lithuanian language, intonation typology


The article deals with the development of research into the intonation of the Lithuanian language, the methods employed, and the results achieved compared with the history of research of intonation of other languages. The beginning of research into the intonation of the Lithuanian language is recorded only at the beginning of the twentieth century in the works of the linguists Jonas Jablonskis (1911) and Mykolas Durys (1927). Substantial research into intonations of other European languages (English, Russia) was conducted in the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries (English: John Hart (1551) and Charles Butler (1634); Russian: Mikhail Lomonosov (1755). The beginning and the second half of the twentieth century, when the intonation of the Lithuanian language was studied by Lithuanian linguists syntacticians and phoneticians, was the most productive research period. A considerable amount of research was carried out using the methods of experimental phonetics. It resulted in the development of terminology of Lithuanian intonation, the establishment of its functions and of the main phonetic features. The key authors: syntactician Jonas Balkevičius (1963, 1998), phoneticians Vincas Pukelis (1972) and Petronėlė Bikulčienė (1976), Antanas Pakerys (2003), Aleksas Girdenis (1980; 2003). A variant of the Lithuanian language intonation system inventory is presented in the works of Gintautas Kundrotas (2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012). It was found that the intonation system of the Lithuanian language consists of four elements: (1) a subsystem of seven units of intonation types; (2) a shift of intonation centre (marking of intonation centre); (3) syntagmatic spread, and (4) the pause as an additional element within the syntagma. The intonation system is a constituent part of phonetic (phonological) means of the whole language.