Spontaneous speech intonation in (European) Portuguese: an example of experimental analysis with a macrosyntactic view


  • Philippe Martin UFRL




Besides studies based on illocution criteria (Raso & Mello, 2009), most studies on Portuguese intonation pertain mainly to read speech, and use for a large part either the autosegmental-metrical framework -- AM - (Frota& al., 2007) or, for a small number, a phonosyntactic model (Martin, 1999, 2004). In papers pertaining to the last category, there is a clear assumption that the sentence prosodic structure is independent but associated to syntax. In this view, prosodic contours located on or around stressed syllables function as phonological markers of this prosodic structure. Experimental studies describe for example a high and rising melodic contour located on the first stressed syllable of a subject NP, and either a rising contour (on the stressed syllable) or a complex contour (falling on the stressed syllable and rising on the last syllable) of the last unit of a SN syntagm.

Whereas this description is essentially compatible with those given in the AM framework, the validity of AM theory may be questionable if extended to non-prepared (spontaneous) speech. In such cases, a macrosyntactic approach proves to be an effective tool, as it envisions the sentence as a sequence of macrosegments, syntactically well formed in the classical sense, but whose relations of parataxis or dependency with each other are partially determined by the sentence prosodic structure. This paper presents a short example of analysis conducted in this framework, showing the interaction between macrosyntactic and prosodic structures, the latter operation (re)structuring the sequence of macrosegments organized (by definition) in a flat structure in the sentence.