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Bookmark and Share Paper 1258

On Intonation's Relationship with Pragmatic Meaning in Spanish
Rajiv Rao
103-115 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


This study, which extends on research conducted by Face (2003) and Prieto (2004), examines the presence of downstepping, final lowering, fundamental frequency (F0) rises through stressed syllables (or lack thereof, i.e., deaccenting), F0 peak alignment, and phonological phrasing patterns in Spanish unscripted declaratives of the five pragmatic categories of speech acts. Established by Searle (1977), these categories are: representatives, directives, commissives, expressives, and declarations. Inspired by a methodology employed by Hualde (2002), a native Spanish-speaking linguist of the Madrid dialect was provided with three situations for each of the five pragmatic categories, and then produced an intonation pattern consisting of one or two sentences that she found appropriate for each situation. The results show that downstepping occurs most in representatives and expressives, while final lowering only occurs in representatives. Expressives distinguish themselves by showing a very low rate of deaccenting and a high rate of F0 peak alignment with stressed syllables. Finally, phonological phrases do not contain more than four prosodic words and the shortest phrases seem to entail more emotion and items in narrow focus. Overall, the data implies that the manifestation of intonational features varies according to pragmatic context.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 8th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Timothy L. Face and Carol A. Klee
Table of contents
Printed edition: $250.00