Exploring Intonations in Sesame Street’s Puppet Shows: A Phonological Perspective

  • Ema Wilianti Dewi Universitas Sebelas Maret
  • Nur Arifah Drajati Universitas Sebelas Maret
  • Melor M Yunus Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia


Intonation is a primary aspect in phonology, particularly in the supra-segmental area. Intonation carries meaning and changing the intonation of an utterance can quickly change the meaning of that utterance. This research aims to discover the patterns of intonation used in Sesame Street's puppet show and identify how interpersonal meaning is constructed on the show. This research was conducted from a phonology perspective and using the qualitative method. This research concentrates on phonology, mainly the supra-segmental area that is intonation. The focus of this study was on the relation between intonation patterns (tonality, tonicity, and tone) and interpersonal meaning. The website of Sesame Street was the source of Primary data for this study, as well as the puppet show's episode "Alphabet Race" (from Season 38). This research involved the researchers as its major instrument for analysing the data. In the process of collecting data, the researchers did documentation. This analysis finds the different division of the information between the systemic functional grammar level and the intonation level, which is shown from the clauses and tone units found in the show. The findings of this research provide teachers and EFL learners with further insight into how utterances deal with their intonation.


Ali, F., & Yunus, M. M., (2014). Language learning strategies used by the gifted students in enhancing their proficiency in speaking English. In proceedings of the International Conference on Gifted and Talented Education (pp. 97-105). Selangor, Malaysia: Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Ary, D., Jacobs, L., Razavieh, A., & Sorensen, C. (2012). Introduction to research in education. Belmont, TN: Thomson Wadsworth.

Bumela, L., (2012). The metafunction revealed: EFL learners' experience in making sense of the text. Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 1(2), 106-119.


Cheng, W., Greaves, C., & Warren, M. (2008). A corpus-driven study of discourse intonation. Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins.


Chun, D. M., (2002). Discourse intonation in L2: from theory and research to practice. Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins.


Kuhlen, E., (2004). Prosody in conversation: Studies in interactional sociolinguistics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Cresswell, J. W., (2009). Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach. London, UK: Sage Publications.

Demirci, K., (2011). On the importance of the phoneme theory. International Periodical for the Languages, Literature, and History of Turkish or Turkic, 6(2), 259-366.


Fraenkel, J. R., Wallen, N. E., & Hyun, H. H. (2012). How to design and evaluate research in education. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Halliday, M. A., K. (1985). Spoken and written language. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Halliday, M. A., K. (1994). An introduction to functional grammar. London, UK: Horder Arnold.

Halliday, M. A. K., Matthiessen, C. M. M. (2004). An introduction of functional grammar. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Hughes, R., (2011). Teaching and researching speaking. London, UK: Pearson Education.

Kula, N. C., Bortma, B., & Nusukawa, K. (2010). Continuum companion to English phonology. New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Liu, Y. L. (2008). The effectiveness of interactive instruction on the intonation learning of Chinese college learners. Cross-cultural Communication, 4(1), 90-103.

Nur, S., (2015). Analysis of personal meta-function in public speeches: A case study of Nelson Mandela's presidential inauguration speech. The International Journal of Social Sciences, 30(1), 52-63.

Oladipupo, R. O. (2010). The Intonation of Noun Phrase Subjects and Clause-Modifying Adverbials in Nigerian English. African Research Review, 4(3).


Onsuwan, C., Tantibundhit, C., Saimai, T., Saimai, N., Chootrakool, P., & Thatphithakkul, S. (2012). Analysis of Thai tonal identification in noise. In the Proceedings of 14th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology.

Puga, K., Fuchs, R., Setter, J., & Mok, P. (2017). The perception of English intonation patterns by German L2 speakers of English. Interspeech. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017¬1279


Tench, P. (n.d.). A systemic-functional model of the intonation of clauses in English. Wales: Cardiff University.

Tench, P., (2011). Transcribing the sound of English: a phonetics workbook for words and discourse. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.


Tuan, l. T. (2012). Further glimpse at intonation teaching. Asian Social Science, 8(1), 224-235.


How to Cite
Dewi, E. W., Drajati, N. A., & Yunus, M. M. (2019). Exploring Intonations in Sesame Street’s Puppet Shows: A Phonological Perspective. Issues in Language Studies, 8(2), 32-47. https://doi.org/10.33736/ils.1348.2019