Speech Prosody 2006

Dresden, Germany
May 2-5, 2006

Focal Pitch Accents and Subject Positions in Spanish: Comparing Close-to-Standard Varieties and Argentinean Porteño

Christoph Gabriel

Fachbereich 7 (Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaft), University of Osnabrück, Germany

In Spanish focus can be signaled by both prosodic and syntactic strategies. However, it remains controversial how these two components of grammar depend on one another. Based on the analysis of experimental data it is argued that in Spanish focus is primarily expressed through intonational means, namely the location of nuclear stress. Unlike most Spanish dialects, Argentinean porteño allows for a tonal distinction between neutral and contrastive focus in IP-final position. In other positions focus is expressed through increased F0 values and/or syllable-internal early peak alignment (EPA). As is shown with the example of non-clefted declaratives containing a focused subject (F[S]F) reordering of constituents can optionally apply (yielding the non-canonical ordering VOF[S]F). Movement as an additional strategy of focus marking is avoided in sentences with a full DP object, but strongly preferred with a clitic object (CL+VF[S]F). The variation found in the data is best accounted for by assuming that the structures which are built up according to the Minimalist target/probe approach and associated with all of the possible F0 contours undergo an OT evaluation following the insights of the overlapping constraints model.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Gabriel, Christoph (2006): "Focal pitch accents and subject positions in Spanish: comparing close-to-standard varieties and argentinean porteo", In SP-2006, paper 028.