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Discourses have been extensively described in terms of their generic configurations: stages and phases of genres have been characterized according to the functions they fulfil within the text as a whole, and the choices made in the lexico-grammar and the semantics have been explored; but little has been said about the phonological realizations of genres in oral texts. In the understanding that ‘the prosodic resources of the phonological system, its intonation and rhythm, are [...] central to the workings of a language [...]’ and that ‘phonology is an essential component in the making of meaning’ (Halliday & Greaves, 2008, pp. 74, 79) we set out to explore oral texts, looking for correspondences between the lexico-grammatical and semantic patterns described and their phonological realizations. Our analysis has been based mainly on the developments in SFL phonology and on Discourse Intonation Theory, and we have observed linguistic features within the systems of Tonality, Tonicity and Tone, and paralinguistic ones, concerning tempo, articulation, extension of segments, volume, pitch span, among others. Our auditory perceptions have been validated by means of the computer software Praat. As a result, we have found some consistent tendencies in the realizations of both textual and interpersonal meanings through particular phonological choices.
Genres are constituted by stages that fulfil different functions within the whole text and each stage has particular realizations at the lexico-grammatical and semantic strata in relation to that function. Genre studies describe these patterns with little or no reference to their realization at the level of phonology. On the other hand, phonological studies rarely refer to communicative functions in terms of linguistic genres. There are studies that refer to different choices in tonality and tonicity which affect stretches of discourse larger than the tone unit. Some of these studies relate intonation choices to the textual structure positing the notion of paratone. The aim of this paper is to enquire whether it is possible to find correlations between phonological realizations and specific generic functions in different stages of the discourse. It explores the relationship between prosodic and generic configurations in general interest interviews from a BBC programme. The corpus is analysed showing generic configurations and both auditory and instrumental analysis are used for the phonological study. The preliminary conclusions reached show that intonation choices tend to have a role in signalling textual and interpersonal meanings within generic structures together with, and independently from, lexico-grammatical choices.