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13 - French

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 February 2010

Carlos Gussenhoven
Affiliation:
Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands
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Summary

Introduction

This chapter presents a phonological description of ω, ϕ, and l in French, an intonation-only language. Also, a tonal grammar will be presented that accounts for the language's intonation contours: it predicts what the contrasts are and explains why contours that are well formed in other languages are not possible in French. The ϕ and to a lesser extent the ω determine the distribution of pitch accents, which arise from the interplay between clash resolution and the desire to mark boundaries of ϕs and ωs with pitch accents. Pitch accents are relatively frequent, and there is usually more than one in a ϕ, often in the same word. Since ϕs also tend to be shorter than in English, there are more pitch accents in French than in English. Delais (1995) estimates that 40 per cent of all syllables are accented in read speech, while for the same speech style Post (2000b) reports a mean distance between accented syllables of 1.74 syllables, which puts the percentage of accented syllables at 36 per cent. My own estimate for English is 27 per cent. When there is more than one pitch accent in a ϕ, their distribution is in part governed by rhythmical considerations. Occurrences of adjacent pitch accents within the same ϕ are rare (cf. Verluyten 1982).

One of the exciting challenges of French intonational phonology is to account for this distribution of pitch accents. There is considerable variation in this distribution, in part depending on the variety and in part on the speech style.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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  • French
  • Carlos Gussenhoven, Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • Book: The Phonology of Tone and Intonation
  • Online publication: 18 February 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511616983.014
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  • French
  • Carlos Gussenhoven, Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • Book: The Phonology of Tone and Intonation
  • Online publication: 18 February 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511616983.014
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • French
  • Carlos Gussenhoven, Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  • Book: The Phonology of Tone and Intonation
  • Online publication: 18 February 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511616983.014
Available formats
×