Speech Prosody 2002

Aix-en-Provence, France
April 11-13, 2002

Metrical Patterns and Melodicity in English Contrasted with French

Anthony Hind

UPRES EA 333 "ARP", UFR Linguistique, Université Paris 7 - Denis Diderot, France

It is often considered that English is Trochaic at the foot level (and this may explain the tendency to leftward-ho! stress shift at the word level), but that at the higher levels a syntactically based Iambic broad-focus pattern dominates.

The presence of Trochaic patterns at the higher level has then either to be explained by information structured stress shifts(de-accentuation of back-ground information, contrastive stress, etc.) or by the application of automatic meaning-neutral rhythm based shifts which avoid the stress clashes that would result from the application of the Iambic patterns (automatic pistol /3020 10/ Æ /2030 10/ ).

I will suggest that there is in fact variability between this higher level syntactic based Iambic patterning and one in which the rhythmically based structure (typical of eurhythmic realisations) is trochaic all the way up to the highest level, which alone is Iambic; and this would be very close to the Traditional British "initial-strong Head + final-strong Tonic" structure.

Contrasting English with French, I also argue that it is necessary to distinguish two types of strongly melodic realisation. The first concerns the organisation of tones within a single Tone Group (intra-contour patterning) typical of the "chant" or "the melodic cliché" Fonagy [1]. The second concerns the rhythmic organisation of contours between themselves possibly across T.G.s(inter-contour patterning) for which the term "Sing-songy", or "Swinging" realisation, would seem more appropriate.

Reference

  1. Fonagy, I., et al., 1983. Clichés mélodiques. Societas linguistica Europea, 273-303.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hind, Anthony (2002): "Metrical patterns and melodicity in English contrasted with French", In SP-2002, 387-390.