This paper presents a general model for the relation between representations of form and function for speech prosody on a multi-lingual basis. It outlines a procedure for analysing prosody by synthesis generating formal representations from a minimal representation of prosodic functions and comparing the output with the observed data. This then allows the functional representation to be enriched and to test whether it provides a closer fit to the data. This is specifically applied to the intonation patterns of British English. Five successively more complex models are presented and applied to fifteen continuous passages from the Eurom1 corpus. The quality of fit of the models is finally measured by linear correlation with hand corrected modelled fundamental frequency curves. It is argued that such a process will provide a starting point for an analysis which eventually could provide fully automatic functional annotation of prosody on a multilingual basis.