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LINGUIST List 21.3193

Fri Aug 06 2010

Diss: Disc Analysis: Lin: 'The Prosody of Formulaic Language'

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        1.    Phoebe Lin, The Prosody of Formulaic Language

Message 1: The Prosody of Formulaic Language
Date: 05-Aug-2010
From: Phoebe Lin <aexmslnottingham.ac.uk>
Subject: The Prosody of Formulaic Language
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Institution: University of Nottingham
Program: School of English Studies
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2010

Author: Phoebe M. S. Lin

Dissertation Title: The Prosody of Formulaic Language

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis

Dissertation Director:
Svenja Adolphs

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis presents three original studies which explored the hypothesis
that formulaic language can be identified based on prosodic cues. These
three studies examined the hypothesis from different angles and, at the
same time, reflect a progression in the depth of our understanding of how
the phonological method can be realised in the formulaic language
identification process.

Study One examined whether formulaic language can be identified by tracking
intonation unit boundaries. The results showed that 55 percent and 40
percent of the formulaic sequences in the spontaneous speech of proficient
learners and native speakers respectively are completely delineated by
intonation unit boundaries. Based on these results, it is clear that the
success rate is not high enough for researchers to rely on tracking
intonation unit boundaries alone to identify formulaic language. However, a
trend was observed that the level of alignment with intonation units
increases with the scores which the native speaker judges provided to
indicate how confident they were about the formulaicity of the word
sequences they had chosen. Taken together, these results suggest that
although the tracking of intonation unit boundaries alone is not sufficient
to identify formulaic language in the spontaneous speech of native speakers
and proficient learners, it may give some indication about the level of
formulaicity of word sequences.

Study Two considered whether formulaic language can be identified by
prosodic cues concerning tempo and stress placement. As a first step
towards this direction, the study aimed to establish empirically whether
formulaic language demonstrates unique temporal and stress patterns.
Samples of formulaic sequences taken from an academic lecture extract
collected in the Nottingham Multi-Modal Corpus (NMMC) were analyzed in
terms of their temporal and stress patterns. Among other observations,
formulaic language was not found to have a higher articulation rate than
the speaker's mean articulation rate, and words within formulaic sequences
are distinctly less likely to receive stress.

Study Three adopted an alternative interpretation of the phonological
method in the identification of formulaic language. It asked whether
allowing judges to listen to the prosody of formulaic sequences will reduce
the subjectivity in their formulaicity judgement and increase the level of
agreement between judges. Results of this study provided an affirmative
answer to this question and, at the same time, revealed the mechanism by
which the listening to the audio recording improves the use of collective
native speaker judgement as a formulaic language identification method.
These results showed that while the search for prosodic cues unique to
formulaic language should continue, an alternative way to realise the
phonological method is really to replace the textual speech transcripts
with the multimodal transcripts in the process of formulaic language
identification by collective native speaker judgement.



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