|Title:||The Prosodic Behavior of Sentence Complements in American English (Le Comportement prosodique des compléments en anglais américain)||Add Dissertation|
|Author:||Steven Schaefer||Update Dissertation|
|Email:||click here to access email|
|Institution:||Université Paris Diderot - Paris 7, English Linguistics|
|Linguistic Subfield(s):||Phonetics; Phonology;|
|Abstract:||Various treatments of phrase accentuation and intonation, two major components of the larger problem of prosody in English, have characterized the linguistic functioning of both in terms either of syntactic structures only, or else as the reflection of psychological attitudes. The prosodic role of sentence complements (subject, object, adjunct or adverbial complement of the finite verb) and prepositional object complements generally confers upon them the status of accentuated elements, without the larger implications of their prosodic role being discussed.
Moreover, linguistic investigations have not heretofore established a non-ambiguous link between acoustic parameters of prosody and linguistic structure. The most prevalent schemata today either assign values to syntax-based phonological models, or else result in linguistically non-interpretable phonetic description of prosodic features.
The present study traces the problem to the ambivalent relationship between acoustic language phenomena, multi-parametric in nature, and the perception of linguistically pertinent prosodic prominence, which is engendered by these phenomena. In an attempt to clarify the nature of prominence, the prevalent notion of stress is notably called into question. The spectrographic acoustic analysis which forms the central core of the thesis is carried out on some two hundred utterances of spontaneous speech in American English; the presence of prosodic prominence measured along a number of parameters (frequency, amplitude, duration and interval) attests to its place in the construction of the acoustic material of the utterance.
A minute examination of these four primary acoustic parameters reveals the principle of their prosodic pertinence in the composition of prominent points in the utterance, which in turn mark the underlying linguistic operations. The proposed method first identifies the acoustic profile of four discrete levels for the prominent points in the corpus utterances; these levels are then analyzed in terms of relations constructed on the basis of the semantic core of the utterance, or lexis relations (as defined in the Theory of Enunciative Operations). These prosodic levels are shown in this study to be relevant to enunciative operations as advanced by the theory of Antoine Culioli, which permits the inclusion of prosodic analysis in the larger framework of cognitive operations involved in the utterance act. The semantic and referential relations marked by prosodic prominence invariably involve enunciative operations which can be analyzed at the notional level, and provide a sound basis for moving beyond a simple distinction between hypostatized lexical and grammatical sentence elements.