Speech Prosody 2002

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

French Tonal Structures

Brechtje Post

Centre for Speech and Language, University of Cambridge, UK

Despite the rather large body of literature on French intonation, there is no agreement about the number of contrastive contours in the system. Since the descriptions use different methodologies and theoretical frameworks, their relative merit cannot be evaluated straightforwardly.

This paper introduces a tonal analysis of French intonation that is based on empirical evidence. The stressed syllables and boundaries in the utterances determine at which locations melodic changes can occur, and the tonal structure specifies how the melody can be varied at those points. Thus, the analysis states unambiguously which variations in pitch function contrastively, and its claims can be experimentally verified.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Post, Brechtje (2002): "French tonal structures", In SP-2002, 583-586.