Prosodic Variation (with)in Languages - Intonation, Phrasing and Segments - Marisa Cruz

Prosodic Variation (with)in Languages - Intonation, Phrasing and Segments - Marisa Cruz

1. Text-tune Alignment in Tunisian Arabic Yes-No Questions

Prosodic Variation (with)in Languages - Intonation, Phrasing and Segments - Marisa Cruz

Sam Hellmuth [+-]
University of York
Sam Hellmuth is Professor of Linguistics in the Department of Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York. Sam was Director and Principal Investigator of the UK Economic and Social Research Council-funded project Intonational Variation in Arabic. Her research seeks to understand the scope of variation observed in the intonational systems of spoken Arabic dialects, and the interaction of intonation in these languages with segmental and metrical phonology, syntax, semantics, and information structure. Sam also works on second language acquisition of prosody, and the prosodic properties of regional dialects of British Englishes and World Englishes.

Description

This paper reveals a pattern of vowel epenthesis in Tunisian Arabic yes-no questions which is – at least partly – prosodically conditioned. In our data, the final nuclear accent in yes-no questions is commonly a (delayed peak) rise followed by a complex boundary tone (analysed here as L*+H H-L%), and, in such tokens, an epenthetic vowel is frequently appended to the last lexical item by some speakers. This pattern of utterance-final vowel epenthesis has not previously been reported in the small literature on Tunisian Arabic intonation, nor in other work on the intonation patterns of neighbouring dialects of Arabic, to the best of our knowledge. Systematic investigation of corpus data reveals that many of the contextual factors which have been shown to condition word-final epenthesis in European Portuguese and Italian do not play a role in the incidence of word-final epenthesis in Tunisian Arabic. Instead, in Tunisian Arabic, the primary conditioning factors for word-final epenthesis are discourse function (yes-no questions) and prosodic contour (complex rise-fall), with a secondary effect of gender (the pattern is produced more frequently by female speakers). The results suggest that the Tunisian Arabic word-final epenthetic vowel is not a case of ‘text- tune’ adjustment, but functions instead as a question particle. The potential historical origins of the pattern, and its current sociolinguistic indexical function, are briefly discussed.

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Citation

Hellmuth, Sam. 1. Text-tune Alignment in Tunisian Arabic Yes-No Questions. Prosodic Variation (with)in Languages - Intonation, Phrasing and Segments. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 9-35 Apr 2022. ISBN 9781781794685. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=30065. Date accessed: 21 Feb 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30065. Apr 2022

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