14thAnnual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Lyon, France
August 25-29, 2013

Non-Canonical Syntactic Structures in Discourse: Tonality, Tonicity and Tones in English (Semi-)Spontaneous Speech

Laetitia Leonarduzzi, Sophie Herment

LPL, France

This paper presents a corpus study of four non-canonical English structures used for information packaging . extrapositions, right dislocations, it-clefts, wh-clefts. We study the relations between the information structure and the prosodic patterns (tonality, tonicity and tones) and show that the canonical (expected) prosody of these structures is not the most frequent one in semi-spontaneous speech, meaning that the canonical use of these structures might not be canonical at all in terms of frequency. It is argued that in discourse the pragmatic functions of the non-canonical structures studied derive from the complex interactions between syntax and prosody. Tonality reveals the informativeness (relevance at this point of discourse) of each part of the structure, adding meaning to that of the syntactic structure. Inside the intonation phrase, tonicity indicates what is old or new information, sometimes countering the canonical use of syntax, and can be used for highlighting or contrastive purposes. As for tones, their function is to mark contrast, emphasis or implication on the part of the speaker.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Leonarduzzi, Laetitia / Herment, Sophie (2013): "Non-canonical syntactic structures in discourse: tonality, tonicity and tones in English (semi-)spontaneous speech", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 1453-1457.