Speech Prosody 2012

Shanghai, China
May 22-25, 2012

Prosodic Similarities in French Spoken in the Mascareignes

Philippe Martin

CLILLAC-ARP, EA 3967, UFR Linguistique, Université Paris Diderot Sorbonne Paris Cité, France

Sentence intonation of spontaneous French spoken in Mauritius and Reunion Island presents intriguing similarities. In both varieties, the realization of the so-called continuation majeure present sharp melodic rises with glissando values exceeding 70 semitones/s, whereas values below 40 semitones/s are generally found in most other varieties of French. This similarity exists despite the fact that both Mauritius and Reunion Island are separated by some 250 km of sea, and that both islands have known different languages of administration, English and French, which preludes a language in contact effect.
   This paper presents and discusses various hypotheses to explain the origin of this prosodic peculiarity maintained in both islands: was it an heritage of first French settlers in the XVIIIth century, the effect of a common substrate of African languages spoken by slaves, or a melodic variation spontaneously created as part of creole? The validation of one of these hypotheses is not straightforward, given that varieties of French spoken in other regions presenting similar historical characteristics may apparently present the same remarkable melodic feature.

Index Terms: sentence prosody, continuation majeure, intonation, Mauritius, Reunion Island.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Martin, Philippe (2012): "Prosodic similarities in French spoken in the Mascareignes", In SP-2012, 434-437.