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