Speech Prosody 2012

Shanghai, China
May 22-25, 2012

Extra-Sentential Elements, Prosodic Restructuring, and Information Structure. A Study of Clitic-Left Dislocation in Spontaneous French

Mathieu Avanzi (1), Lisa Brunetti (2), Cédric Gendrot (3)

(1) Chaire de linguistique française, Université de Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel, Switzerland
(2) Laboratoire Dynamique du Langage (UMR 5596), Université Lumière Lyon 2, Lyon, France
(3) LPP, UMR 7018/CNRS Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3, Paris, France

The aim of this study is to discuss the hypothesis according to which prosodic prominence and pragmatic salience are closely related. To do so, we focus on French clitic-left dislocated subjects, namely those constructions where the subject occupies a position in the left periphery and co-refers with a resumptive clitic pronoun within the main clause. Scholars have made the hypothesis that the different degree of prominence of the pitch accent on the last syllable of the dislocated NP depends on the degree of salience in the discourse: the more the topic referent is salient, the less the pitch accent is prominent. We semi-automatically process 101 sentences extracted from spontaneous speech corpora for prosodic and pragmatic analysis. A comparison of the two coding suggests that the mapping between prominence and salience is not that straightforward in spoken French, as it only concerns the class of shift topics. From this we conclude that if prosodic prominence plays any pragmatic role, it is not that of signaling salience, but rather a particular organization of discourse.

Index Terms: clitic left dislocation, prosodic phrasing, prosodic restructuring, prominence, topic, salience, spontaneous French

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Avanzi, Mathieu / Brunetti, Lisa / Gendrot, Cédric (2012): "Extra-sentential elements, prosodic restructuring, and information structure. a study of clitic-left dislocation in spontaneous French", In SP-2012, 270-273.