The Status of the Initial Rise as a marker of Focus in French

Abstract : This study addresses the relationship between information structure and intonation in French. Using an interactive speech production experiment, it tests the hypothesis that the French initial rise (LHi) is used to mark the left edge of a contrastively focused constituent. Since the occurrence of the initial rise is also known to be sensitive to the length of an Accentual Phrase (AP), AP length was manipulated within the same experiment in a 2 × 2 design. This made it possible to explore the issue of whether the initial rise represents a true marker of focus in the traditional sense, or whether the association is less direct. The results show that focus and phrase length make contributions to the distribution of the initial rise, but with no interaction. It is argued that these findings are incompatible with a model that assumes a direct mapping between focus and the initial rise, and that the relatively weak association can nevertheless be informative in a model of interpretation that integrates multiple probabilistic inputs to initial rise occurrence. These findings represent the first quantitative experimental assessment of focus realization in French in a non-corrective context, and establish a previously undocumented link between the initial rise and discourse-level meaning.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 7, 2017 - 3:32:29 PM
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James German, Mariapaola d'Imperio. The Status of the Initial Rise as a marker of Focus in French. Language and Speech, SAGE Publications (UK and US), 2016, pp.165-195. ⟨10.1177/0023830915583082⟩. ⟨hal-01460054⟩



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