Speech Prosody 2002

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

Incidental Clauses in Spoken Catalan: Prosodic Characteristics and Pragmatic Function

Marta Payà Canals

Departament de Filologia Catalana, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain

This paper is an investigation of incidental clauses in spoken Catalan. Our aim is to define the prosodic characteristics of incidental clauses and their functions in the discourse. After an analysis of a sample of incidental clauses in spoken Catalan (taken from semispontaneous argumentative and narrative productions), the following conclusions are reached: incidental clauses are often produced between silences; they are produced in a lower register than the principal utterance in which they are inserted, with less intensity, with a compressed pitch range, and they tend to be followed by a noticeable tonal reset at the beginning of the continuation of the main utterance. Usually, the incidental clause is produced with a final falling tone, but clauses which have a modalisation value tend to finish with a rising tone. Finally, we present a pragmatic interpretation of the insertion of an incidental clause within the discourse as a rupture of conversational principles, since it complicates the listener’s information processing task. In the interests of successful communicative cooperation, a) the incidental clause function must have a benefit for the listener that surpasses the cost, and b) the incidental clause must be emitted with a sufficient number of clues (prosodic, gestural, syntactic, lexical, or semantic) for the listener to be able to identify it as a supplementary piece of the discourse.

Full Paper
Sound Examples (as referenced in the full paper):   Figure 1   Figure 2   Figure 3  

Bibliographic reference.  Payà Canals, Marta (2002): "Incidental clauses in spoken Catalan: prosodic characteristics and pragmatic function", In SP-2002, 559-562.