Speech Prosody 2010

Chicago, IL, USA
May 10-14, 2010

Intonational Encoding of Focus in Toulousian French

Aoju Chen (1), Emilie Destruel (2)

(1) Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
(2) University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA

Previous studies on focus marking in French have shown that post-focus deaccentuation, phrasing and phonetic cues like peak height and duration are employed to encode narrow focus but tonal patterns appear to be irrelevant. These studies either examined Standard French or did not control for the regional varieties spoken by the speakers. The present study investigated the use of all these cues in expressing narrow focus in naturally spoken declarative sentences in Toulousian French. It was found that similar to Standard French, Toulousian French uses post-focus deaccentuation and phrasing to mark focus. Different from Standard French, Toulousian French does not use the phonetic cues but use tonal patterns to encode focus. Tonal patterns ending with H% occur more frequently in the VPs when the subject is in focus but tonal patterns ending with L% occur more frequently in the VPs when the object is in focus. Our study thus provides a first insight into the similarities and differences in focus marking between Toulousian French and Standard French.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Chen, Aoju / Destruel, Emilie (2010): "Intonational encoding of focus in Toulousian French", In SP-2010, paper 233.