intonation vs. cadence

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sb70012

Senior Member
Azerbaijani/Persian
Hello,
Once a Chinese girl in a chat room asked me about the difference between "cadence" and "intonation"
But I'm afraid, I couldn't give her a proper answer. She even didn't have a (proper) context.
I have checked WR Dictionary but in spite of having looked at their meanings I couldn't make head or tail of their difference.
1. Intonation: the rise and fall of the voice in speaking, especially as this affects the meaning of what is being said.
In English, some questions have a rising intonation.
Her voice was low with a faint regional intonation.
2. Cadence: the rise and fall of the voice in speaking.
He delivered his words in slow, measured cadences.
Context: asked in a chat room
Source: Oxford Dictionary

Is there any difference between them?

Thanks in advance
 
Last edited:
  • Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Intonation has to do with the rise and fall of sounds in speaking. Cadence has to do with the speed and rhythm of sounds in speaking.

    Intonation can be high or low, rising or falling. Cadence can be slow or fast, even or choppy.
     

    sb70012

    Senior Member
    Azerbaijani/Persian
    Intonation has to do with the rise and fall of sounds in speaking. Cadence has to do with the speed and rhythm of sounds in speaking.

    Intonation can be high or low, rising or falling. Cadence can be slow or fast, even or choppy.
    So tricky difference.:)
    But thanks for answering.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    I think "cadence" can be used to refer to pitch in speech as well. The dictionary entry here supports that impression:
    cadence /ˈkeɪdəns/, cadencyn ( pl -dences, -dencies)
    • the beat or measure of something rhythmic
    • a fall in the pitch of the voice, as at the end of a sentence
    • modulation of the voice; intonation
    • a rhythm or rhythmic construction in verse or prose; measure
    • the close of a musical phrase or section
    Let's compare it to the definition of "intonation":
    intonation /ˌɪntəʊˈneɪʃən/n
    • the sound pattern of phrases and sentences produced by pitch variation in the voice
    • the act or manner of intoning
    • an intoned, chanted, or monotonous utterance; incantation
    • the opening of a piece of plainsong, sung by a soloist
    • the capacity to play or sing in tune
    Clearly "cadence" is more specifically the kind of intonation that happens at the end of sentences, or any downward modulation in pitch. "Cadence" comes from the Latin verb "cadere," meaning "to fall." I would say that a "cadence" specifically names this one kind of intonation, and then by association can mean "intonation in general."

    I would also say that "cadence," to me, has a specific musical meaning of "pattern of [usually resolving] chords," and I hear that meaning very strongly when I read the term "cadence" in any context.
     
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