Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

E-mail this page 1

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: The Prosody of Formulaic Language Add Dissertation
Author: Phoebe Lin Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Nottingham, School of English Studies
Completed in: 2010
Linguistic Subfield(s): Discourse Analysis;
Director(s): Svenja Adolphs

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.