3. High Pre-tonic Falls in Northeastern Brazilian Varieties: May a Prenuclear High Target Spreading Rightward Re-categorize as a Nuclear Leading Tone?
Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Brazil
University of Lisbon
The intonation of northeastern Brazilian Portuguese shows a nuclear falling pitch accent in statements, with a salient high-pretonic rise (Cunha & Colamarco, 2005; Silvestre, 2012), which was labeled in literature as ¡H+L* (Moraes, 2008). This contour was also documented in Recife (PE) and in João Pessoa (PB), through different elicitation tasks, by the authors of the present paper. Four female and two male speakers from Recife aged between 23 and 31, with high school completed, participated in a questionnaire, aimed at eliciting 20 target broad focus statements with a nuclear sentence-final object phrase, varying in syntactic complexity (e.g. compound words, syntactically articulated phrases, phrases with an embedded relative clause) and in number of tone bearing units, distinguishing simple object (1 TBU) from compound object (2 to 5 TBU). Results show that on compound object phrases Recife speakers may use either the hat pattern (39%) or the pre-tonic rise (61%), which is allowed in Pescara only for simple object phrases. The use of the pretonic rise instead of a hat pattern has proven to be sensitive to gender: 79% for women and 37% for men. This suggests that a productive rule PLATEAU > PRETONIC RISE / (if only 1 TBU), similar to Pescara, exists in Recife, but a process of prosodic reanalysis is occurring, led by young female speakers: as the simple object constituents are more frequent, the pre-tonic rise is being applied by analogy to all statements, independently of the number of TBUs, with the reanalysis of the right spreading of the trailing tone of a L+H* prenuclear accent as the leading tone of a nuclear accent.