Deaf speakers frequently experience difficulties in generating a proper intonation. Intonation is the melodic pattern of words, and it is a matter of difference in the pitch level of the voice.
When speaking, intonation is used to convey a different expressive meaning. For example, using different intonations to express surprise, anger, sarcasm, etc. It also serves a grammatical function, distinguishing one type of sentence from another.
To give an example with the words “Your name is John”
- This sentence can be said by beginning with a medium pitch, and ended with a low final pitch, to indicate a statement.
- This sentence can also be ended with a high final pitch as “Your name is John?”, to indicate a question.
Due to not hearing the intonation, deaf persons may think that the speaker said a statement instead of asking a question, or may not realize that the speaker is being sarcastic.