This book "asserts that the origin and spread of languages must be examined primarily through the time-tested techniques of linguistic analysis, rather than those of evolutionary biology" and "defends traditional practices in historical linguistics while remaining open to new techniques, including computational methods" and "will appeal to readers interested in world history and world geography."
Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2004 13:15:29 +0200 (CEST) From: Aritz Irurtzun Subject: Intonation and Stress: Evidence from Hungarian
AUTHOR: Varga, László TITLE: Intonation and Stress SUBTITLE: Evidence from Hungarian PUBLISHER: Palgrave MacMillan YEAR: 2002 ISBN: 0333973704
Aritz Irurtzun, Linguistics and Basque Studies, EHU-U. Basque Country
CONTENTS: After an introductory chapter, the book is divided into two main parts: the first one is on intonation and contains the chapters 2 to 5 and the second part is on stress and contains the chapters 6 to 8. More specifically, chapter 2 introduces a general view on intonation analyzing the different functions that intonation covers and accommodating it in a broader field of prosodic studies. Chapter 3 presents a detailed taxonomic analysis of Hungarian intonation describing twelve meaningful intonation contours (eleven 'character contours' and one 'appended contour'). Chapter 4 gives an autosegmental analysis of the data presented in the previous chapter and proposes that the twelve meaningful intonation contours can be reduced to three more basic ones. Finally, chapter 5 deals with phonological phrasing and the syntax-phonology interface showing that some of the dependencies shown by the melodic contours are rule- governed. On the stress part, chapter 6 presents a detailed discussion of three categorically different degrees of stress (major-stress, minor-stress and zero-stress) and presents some syntactically triggered deaccentuation rules. In chapter 7 the author presents the facts of rhythmical variation and phrasal compounds arguing for an accentual system where the metrical grid is irrelevant in order to account for them. Finally, chapter 8 gives an overview of secondary stresses in Hungarian claiming that they are a property of intonational phrases and not of words. A concluding chapter closes the book.
DISCUSSION As the title shows, the book is a nice example of theoretical analysis departing from a rich discussion of data. The structure of the book also reflects this aim since the author first introduces Hungarian data in a descriptive way, then he gives a more theoretically-oriented interpretation of them and finally he formulates a rule-based theory trying to capture the data.
One of the most remarkable contributions of this book is that the author faces the data with an explanatory purpose and, contrary to some of the research being developed in intonational phonology nowadays, he goes further from a mere presentation of anecdotal data and postulates phonological rules and processes in order to explain them. For instance, the discussion of the Minor Tonosyntactic Blocks in chapter 5 does not stop at a pure descriptive level but continues with an analysis of their interrelations and how the presence of a given tonosyntactic block affects the next ones. The aim of the author could be instantiated in the following passage: ''Our melody rules will have to define what particular contours can or must be assigned to the major-stressed syllables of the dependent blocks and under what circumstances'' (p.99). Hence, a sophisticated system of melody rules is presented in order to capture the data.
Right in the same track it is remarkable as well the autosegmental formalization of Hungarian intonation in chapter 4. With an in-deep analysis of the structure of the tunes, the author reduces the twelve basic patterns of contours presented in the previous chapter to three more basic ones that are limited to containing just three tones, of which two adjacent tones are identical: a half falling contour (notated as H*.L.L$), a high monotone contour (H*.H$) and a monotone falling contour (H*.H.L.$). This reduction is obtained via the postulation of a series of melody-building rules that create new, derived contours out of the basic ones. At the end, Varga presents a finite-state grammar for Hungarian intonation that captures all the legitimate contour combinations for this language.
The structure of the book though does not seem to be the most appropriate one, giving that the part on intonation precedes the part on stress and I think that it would be much more helpful to have the reverse order since some knowledge of the basic data of Hungarian stress would be helpful when dealing with the intonational data.
One of the shortcomings of the book is that it doesn't show any real data but just abstract representations. Real images showing fundamental frequency contours would help the reader to interpret the analysis being developed. Furthermore, it would be interesting to see experimental evidence supporting the presentation of the twelve basic contour patterns in chapter 3. This is even more patent in the discussion of the nature of the accentual system in chapter 7: the author observes that phonetic intensity differences between major accents are irrelevant in accounting for rhythmic rules and hence, he develops an account of these processes based in an approach based in pitch-accent (à la Gussenhoven (1991)). It would be interesting though to see real examples with intensity and fundamental frequency measurements showing these patterns. This lack of real examples obscures the presentation of the data since in order to specify what kind of suprasegmental features the author is talking about, he has to introduce a high amount of notational and terminological devices.
On other grounds, it would be interesting if it included a specific chapter on information structure, given that Hungarian shows overt syntactic realization of focus. Some comments of the prosodic/intonational effects of focalization are provided (like focus triggering deaccentuation of the verb) but, still, a more specific and exhaustive data presentation and autosegmental analysis seems to be worth.
Finally, the first words of the book claim that ''the aim of the book is two-fold. Its primary aim is to provide the international community of phonologists with a comprehensive description of the intonation and stress system of Hungarian.... Secondly, but no less important, the book is meant to be a contribution to current theoretical thinking on intonation and stress in generative linguistics'' (p.1). I think that the author achieves both aims with a nice volume, rich both in discussion of data and theoretical analysis; a concise and precise introduction to the intonational phonology of Hungarian.
REFERENCES Gussenhoven, C., 1991, 'The English rhythm rule as an accent deletion rule', in Phonology 8, pp:1-35.
Gussenhoven, C., 2004, The Phonology of Tone and Intonation, Cambridge (UK), Cambridge University Press.
Ladd, D.R., 1996, Intonational Phonology, Cambridge (UK): Cambridge University Press.
Pierrehumbert, J., 1980, The Phonetics and Phonology of English Intonation, PhD. Dissertation: MIT.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Reviewer's research interests: Syntax-phonology interface, focus, Spell Out, intonational phonology, syntax and semantics of questions.