Tonal and Phrasal Structures in French Intonation

Author: Brechtje Post
LOT Number: 34
ISBN: 90-5569-1178
Pages: 304
€35.00
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Brechtje Post
Tonal and Phrasal Structures in French Intonation


Different melodies can cause the same sentence to receive different
interpretations. Descriptions of French intonation do not agree on the distinct
forms the melodies can take. That is, it is unclear how the direction and the
location of the melodic changes are verified to produce distinct intonation
contours.
This study aims to resolve this controversy by investigating (1) where melodic
changes occur in French, und (2) which forms they take. A production
experiment shows that the location at which contours change direction is
determined by two factors: (a) the distance between accented syllables and (b)
the grouping of words into Phonological Phrases. These findings are accounted
for in the framework of Optimality Theory. A corpus study addresses the second
issue by comparing realisations of intonation contours across speakers and
contexts. In this way, it could be established which differences are contrastive.
These findings are accounted for in the Autosegmental-Metrical framework. To
support the Autosegmental-Metrical analysis, which predicts which differences
are phonological in nature und which are the result of variable phonetic
implementation, two further experiments were carried out.
The result is a systematic description of the tonal structure of French intonation
and its association with the ‘text’. The stressed syllables und boundaries in the
utterances determine at which location melodic changes can occur, and the
tonal structure specifies how the melody can be varied at those points. In this
way, the description makes strong predictions about the nature of the
difference between any intonation contours (i.e. is it distinctive?), and it can be
experimentally verified.
This study is of interest to phonologists and phoneticians, as well us researchers
in the field of French linguistics.

Brechtje Post
Tonal and Phrasal Structures in French Intonation


Different melodies can cause the same sentence to receive different
interpretations. Descriptions of French intonation do not agree on the distinct
forms the melodies can take. That is, it is unclear how the direction and the
location of the melodic changes are verified to produce distinct intonation
contours.
This study aims to resolve this controversy by investigating (1) where melodic
changes occur in French, und (2) which forms they take. A production
experiment shows that the location at which contours change direction is
determined by two factors: (a) the distance between accented syllables and (b)
the grouping of words into Phonological Phrases. These findings are accounted
for in the framework of Optimality Theory. A corpus study addresses the second
issue by comparing realisations of intonation contours across speakers and
contexts. In this way, it could be established which differences are contrastive.
These findings are accounted for in the Autosegmental-Metrical framework. To
support the Autosegmental-Metrical analysis, which predicts which differences
are phonological in nature und which are the result of variable phonetic
implementation, two further experiments were carried out.
The result is a systematic description of the tonal structure of French intonation
and its association with the ‘text’. The stressed syllables und boundaries in the
utterances determine at which location melodic changes can occur, and the
tonal structure specifies how the melody can be varied at those points. In this
way, the description makes strong predictions about the nature of the
difference between any intonation contours (i.e. is it distinctive?), and it can be
experimentally verified.
This study is of interest to phonologists and phoneticians, as well us researchers
in the field of French linguistics.

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