Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

The transmission of meaning through prosodic phrasing The case of Germanic languages versus French Klaus J. Kohler IPDS, Kiel Workshop on Intonational.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "The transmission of meaning through prosodic phrasing The case of Germanic languages versus French Klaus J. Kohler IPDS, Kiel Workshop on Intonational."— Presentation transcript:


2 The transmission of meaning through prosodic phrasing The case of Germanic languages versus French Klaus J. Kohler IPDS, Kiel Workshop on Intonational Phrasing in Romance and in Germanic Research Centre on Multilingualism, University of Hamburg Invited Paper, 23 January 2009

3 1The goal of the Workshop discussion of patterns of phrasing in Romance and Germanic languages, i.e. syntagmatic chunking of utterances –prosodic cues including pitch phenomena, timing, pauses, intensity, segmental features at phrasal boundaries and inside phrases, to mark the syntagmatic structuring –the weights of these individual features in their bundlings in different languages –the relationship between prosodic and syntactic phrasing

4 concentration on read speech over the past decades to be supplemented by spontaneous data the discussion is to take place within the framework of Autosegmental Metrical Phonology –on this point, I am not sure whether you will regret having invited me when you have heard my talk –because I am not a member of the AM and ToBI clubs and thus do not deal in Hs, Ls, stars and all the other accessories of this descriptive tool, which is the dominating fashion of the day an instance of what Jan van Santen calls the sociology of science rather than science

5 My theoretical stance is defined by speech communication science –the objective of investigation is the transmission of meaning by speech between communicators in social interaction in different languages –thus, meaning and communicative function must be the core level to which linguistic form and phonetic substance are related –and meaning must embrace all fields of semantics propositional meaning related to the outside world attitudinal meaning directed towards the recipient expressive meaning embodying the sender

6 In AM, the relationship is reversed –form is at the centre –meaning and function are peripheral adjuncts and generally restricted to propositional meaning –this relegates attitudinal and expressive meaning to paralinguistics and creates a linguistic dichotomy –with discrete categories in linguistics vs. gradience in paralinguistics –this in turn leads to discrete phonology vs. scalar phonetics

7 all this misses the central sense – sound relationship in speech communication –which entails all types of meaning at all times –and is particularly crucial in prosodic analysis where discreteness is the exception rather than the rule and where the postulate of an indirect relationship of phonetic substance to meaning via phonological form bars us from essential insights

8 The AM framework has serious consequences for the methodology of speech data acquisition –Since the postulated formal, cognitive units of a language are the object of investigation, rather than communicative functions in speech interaction, any native speaker of a dialect is a potential source for analysis, commonly of lab speech they all speak with one tongue, and God's Truth emanates from their lips subjects do not need any screening as to their language proficiency, they are taken as available tests can be carried out with meaningless phrases

9 –in the 1980s, Bannert aimed at describing the phonetic manifestation of phrase accents in German collected production data with variations of the constructed sentence Der lullende Müller in Lingen will die längeren Männer in der Menge immer lungernde Lümmel nennen. "The peeing miller from Lingen will always call the longer men in the crowd lay-about rascals." –reminiscent of Bruce's man vill lämna nåra långa nunnor. one wants to leave some long nuns (1977)

10 –nonsense still practised a quarter of a century later Die Nonne und der Lehrer wollen der Lola in Murnau eine Warnung geben, und die Hanne will im November ein Lama malen. "The nun and the teacher want to give a warning to Lola from Murnau, and Hanna wants to paint a lama in November." (Truckenbrodt 2002) –or quite recently {The sheep wanted to introduce the buck to the lion. Why didn't he do it?} Weil der Hammel den Rammler dem Hummer vorgestellt hat. "Because the sheep introduced the buck to the lobster." (Féry & Kügler 2008)

11 –degree of nonsense actually increased over the years –reason is as clear as it is unacceptable to be able to trace continuous f0 through voiced sounds – vowels, laterals, nasals analysis method determines speech material instead of vice versa –and the fixation on cognitive linguistic form instead of communicative function provides the theoretical basis for this nonsense

12 –rote-fashion reading with several repetitions students attending linguistics courses assumption that they will all realise the same underlying phonological accents relevant for the intonation of the language no consideration for potential production artefacts created by the odd material and the collection method, e.g. boredom, which changes pitch accent realization drastically –from such data, pitch and phrase accents are derived as phonological categories of the language

13 2The coding of meaning through prosodic phrasing My stance is akin to scholars such as Karl Bühler, Alan Gardiner, Bronislaw Malinowski, J. R. Firth, and the European linguistic tradition, not to forget Dwight Bolinger, before the AM mission From this position, I am now going to give some illustrations as to how I think meaning is coded through prosodic phrasing in French, in English and in German. To put you into the mood for a switch from your AM expectations to my sense-sound framework and to the Kiel Model of Intonation (KIM)

14 –I would like to ask you to cast your thoughts back 264 years to the 11th of May 1745 –and to a small Hamlet, Fontenoy, in what today is Belgium –on this day, a fierce battle took place between the Allied Anglo-Hanoverian, Dutch, and Austrian army under the command of the Duke of Cumberland and the French army under le Maréchal Saxe the Allied Forces lost. –These are the historical facts. Now come the legends.

15 The legends differ on the two sides of the Channel. –The French version says that the commanding officer of the French Guards advanced towards the English line, took off his hat, and called: Messieurs les Anglais, tirez les premiers! Un bon example de la galanterie française: après vous, je vous en prie. –The English version says that the English commanding officer advanced towards the French line, took off his hat, and issued the opposite invitation.

16 –Now, which language did he do it in? In French, the language of European diplomacy and culture at the time? Messieurs les Français, tirez les premiers! or in English The French gentlemen have the first shot. –In either case, it is reported as an example of English polite sociability "we must give the chaps a chance"

17 Both versions are, of course, highly improbable because the English would most likely not have understood French, nor the French Franglais or English. But there may be a straightforward explanation of the legend, having to do with the atmospheric conditions of a French locality so close to the English Channel dans le Nord, où il y a de la pluie et du brouillard tout anglais the commanding French officer may suddenly have seen the English soldiers emerging from the fog and shouted to the French Guards

18 Messieurs!... Les Anglais!... Tirez les premiers! So, the legendary French utterance at the battle of Fontenoy –is not a listener address to the English, followed by an invitation to act, –but a listener appeal to the French, followed by an admonition, which is in turn followed by a command –and the whole utterance expresses serious concern over a negative, life-threatening experience

19 The difference of this version from the first one lies –not just in number and strength of break indices and phonetic properties at the phrasal boundaries –but also in the pressed breathy phonation running through the whole utterance –as well as in the accent d'insistance on "tirez", lengthening the voiceless initial consonant –all converging to create 'negative intensification', i.e. an emphatic accentuation for the expression of negative experience –without these phonation and intensification features, the utterance would not be decodable as intended, even if it is broken up into 3 prosodic phrases

20 This is an analysis in the framework of communicative phonetic science –it does not start from formal syntactic structures of 'address + (elliptic phrase +) imperative construction' and formal AM phonological categories of pitch and phrase accents, and boundary tones then linking the two and substantiating them with phonetic measurement

21 –instead, it starts from communicative functions of listener address + invitation to act or of listener appeal + admonition + command in the context of 'negative intensification' and looks at the ways they are coded by bundles of sound properties not just at phrase boundaries but through phrases: dual vs. triple chunking is not sufficient –But the historical riddle of Fontenoy remains –because we can get the same in English The French!... Gentlemen!... Have the first shot!

22 –So, we are dealing with phonetic coding of communicative function that goes beyond the individual language. –And the acoustic properties of 'negative intensification' are typically found in other cases of negative experience in e.g. German and English –this is different from positive intensification

23 It stinks! negative positive

24 Generally, prosodic phrasing is much closer to simple chunking by boundary features –as in French elle sortait de la forêt-vierge, elle sortait de la forêt, vierge –or in the English line from Yeats' Leda and the Swan He holds her helpless(,) breast upon his breast –or in the German line from Schiller's, Wilhelm Tell Der brave Mann denkt an sich selbst zuletzt.

25 These boundaries are signalled by bundles of prosodic properties –syllabic lengthening before the break short, not disrupting speech fluency long, disrupting speech fluency –low-falling, high-rising or falling-rising pitch before the break –pitch reset after the break –pause, breathing after the break, scaled in duration –lipsmack and other interactional sounds after the break –glottal stop and glottalization in vowel after the break

26 It is clear that with such multivalued feature bundles phrase boundaries cannot be discretely present or absent but have gradient variability according to the semantic weight of separation between phrases. This weight is not cognitively present in the language but is imposed by the speaker –the language provides a flexible frame within which the speaker can vary –the variability reflects the argumentation structure the speaker imposes on speech in the language –and reflects the speaker's rhetorical proficiency

27 At Kiel, we have done an extensive study of prosodic phrasing for German in the Kiel Corpus of Spontan- eous Speech, supplemented by perception experiments –B. Peters, K.J. Kohler, T. Wesener, Prosodische Merkmale prosodischer Phrasierung in deutscher Spontansprache, AIPUK 35a(1965), –B. Peters, Weiterführende Untersuchungen zu prosodischen Grenzen in deutscher Spontansprache, AIPUK 35a (1965), –B. Peters, Form und Funktion prosodischer Grenzen im Gespräch. PhD thesis, Kiel University, 2006.

28 The following audio illustration provides highly skilled prosodic phrasing for weighted information grouping in an appointment-making task. ja, PG2 gerne. PG2 ich habe also Zeit vom Donnerstag, den 2. Juni PG2 bis Mittwoch, den 8., PG3 und von Samstag, dem 18., PG2 bis Donnerstag, PG1 den 23., PG3 und dann wieder vom 27. bis zum 30. PG4

29 The phrase boundaries are first of all determined auditorily and then related to acoustic properties –PG1 = weakest break, signalled by duration/pitch features (f0 reset, pitch patterns), but no pause –PG2 = duration/(non-terminal) pitch + short pause –PG3 = duration/(non-terminal) pitch + long pause –PG4 = duration/(terminal) pitch at end of dialogue turn or followed by long pause –PG1 and PG2 may be further differentiated by the perceptual strengths of feature value combinations –open research question

30 The presented dialogue turn contains 3 blocks of dates –which are separated by PG3 –within the first 2 blocks, the speaker structures the periods by PG2 from … to –the first block is introduced by 2 affirmative links to the preceding turn, marked by PG2 –at the end of block2, day of the week and date are separated by a weaker PG1 –in block3, the 2 dates of the period are integrated into a hat pattern with a low-falling early f0 peak contour and laryngealization –speaker signals end of turn

31 This perfect hierarchical structuring of syntagmatic grouping, to highlight the speaker's argumentation structure, contrasts with the poor chunking in the following example from the same data scenario. wo ich im Juni Zeit hätte, PG1 ich kann Ihnen das ja mal sagen, PG2 wäre PG3 Samstag den 18. bis Donnerstag den 23., PG1 und dann wieder ab PG2 Montag den 27. bis Ende des Monats. PG2 Vielleicht haben Sie da irgendwann Zeit. PG4

32 There is less grading of boundary strength for the mapping of the structural hierarchy in the information the speaker wants to transmit. Moreover, instances of PG2 and PG3 are located inside syntagmas, they convey dysfluencies as a result of wording problems.

33 In French, there are, principally, the same prosodic parameters to signal phrase boundaries and the same gradient weighting for information grouping. A good example of read speech is the following La bise PG1 et le soleil se disputaient, PG2 chacun assurant qu'il était le plus fort. PG4 Quand ils ont vu un voyageur qui s'avançait, PG3 enveloppé dans son manteau, PG2 ils sont tombés d'accord PG1 que celui qui arriverait le premier PG1 à le lui faire ôter PG2 serait regardé comme le plus fort. PG4 (Alors…)

34 The hierarchical structure of prosodic phrasing is less developed in the following reading of the same text. Although acoustic properties used in the signalling of prosodic boundaries are the same in German and French, their bundlings for the same weighting of argumentation structure are most likely different. In particular, rising pitch patterns have the function of internal structuring of French phrases, they need lengthening added to signal prosodic phrasing. In German, the rising pitch patterns may be sufficient.

35 The illustrations have shown that data must not be analyzed blindly and indiscriminately but need to be screened as to the speakers' speech proficiency before generalizing to cognitive structures in the language. And this caveat is not only valid in the prosodic coding of meaning but even more relevant in the coding of rhythm, which I am turning to now.

36 3The coding of rhythm through prosodic phrasing Although there is great similarity in the signalling of prosodic boundaries between Germanic languages and French, they diverge more strongly in the internal structuring of prosodic phrases –in Germanic, there is recurrence of accents manifested at positions of lexical stresses, maintaining lexical identity grouping of accented and subsequent unaccented syllables to rhythmical bars (feet) across syntagmas inside phrases compression of unaccented syllables, thus adding to the prominence of accented ones

37 –in French, sequence of 'mots phonétiques' grouping of syllables up to last one of a syntagma no lexical stress, obliteration of lexical identity inside a 'mot phonétique' final full-vowel syllable more prominent lack of compression of non-prominent syllables no regular recurrence of accents

38 illustrations from German –content words receive default sentence accents –they dock at the positions of the lexical stresses –manifesting themselves by a combination of f0, duration, intensity, spectral characteristics –there is a tendency towards temporal regularity of the accentual beats, compression –this may also be transferred into L2 French –also 'accent alsacien'

39 illustrations from French –continuation of inter-phrasal chunking principle at intra-phrasal level, but restricted to pitch movement –flexible transition from prosodic phrases to 'mots phonétiques' within phrases phrase boundary by pitch, duration and pause phrase boundary by pitch and duration weak phrase boundary by pitch and weak lengthening 'mots phonétiques' inside phrase –no compression between the prominent syllables of 'mots phonétiques'

40 This prosodic phrasing structure is transferred to L2 –very strong French accent, with phrasal rather than accentual structure –much weaker accent but still 'mots phonétiques' with lack of compression stritten sich / Nordwind / und Sonne not accent bars stritten sich / Nordwind und / Sonne

41 On the other hand, Germanic accentuation in French with compression between prominent syllables disturbs the intra-phrasal prosodic structure for the native French listener, who perceives it as inter-phrasal –therefore, it sounds chopped –and French speakers imitating a Germanic accent mark the accent bars by strong prosodic phrasing

42 Un petit d'un petit s'étonne au hall Un petit d'un petit ah! degrés de folles Un dol de qui ne sort cesse Un dol de qui ne se mène Qu'impute un petit tout Gai de Reguennes. (Adapté de Mots d'Heures: Gousses, Rames, London: Angus & Robertson (1968)) Here is an amusing example illustrating French and Germanic rhythms

43 Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, And all the king's horses, And all the king's men, Couldnt put Humpty together again.

44 F0 patterns with and without pitch accent timing

45 Summary of rhythmic differences In Germanic, we get an accentual interlevel between the syllable and phrasal, meaning-triggered structuring –phrase-internally, it groups syllables into feet, –of a prominent syllable followed by non-prominent –the former is docked at the lexical stress position –lexical identity is preserved, but the accentual structure cuts across phrase-internal syntagmas –prominence is signalled by f0, duration, intensity and spectral characteristics –there is compression between prominences

46 French lacks this interlevel –it uses the same type of structuring phrase-internally –i.e. marking the ends of meaning-triggered syntagmas by prominence, signalled by pitch features –= 'mots phonétiques' without syllabic compression –thus there is gradience from inter-phrasal to intra- phrasal structuring the former using also duration, pauses and intensity –lexical identity inside 'mots phonétiques' obscured, no lexical stress nor marking of word boundaries Phrasing difference to be focussed in multilingual acquisition and communication perspectives.

47 This difference is at the root of classifying Germanic languages as 'stress-timed', French as 'syllable-timed'. –These categories have been discussed extensively for almost a century. –The discussion was sensible until phoneticians introduced the concept of isochrony and started measuring durations in acoustic signals, with the intention of representing the two categories by numerical indices, e.g. nPVI. –These measures may capture some aspects of speech timing but certainly not the two rhythm classes

48 Other Romance languages have also been classified as 'syllable-timed', but there, the situation is different –they have lexical stress and preserve word identity –also accentual inter-level, but Italian, Spanish lack compression, Catalan has vowel reduction –so, the syllabic timing has more to do with simple syllable structures and a preponderance of open syllables, which creates greater syllabic regularity –difference from French to be investigated with more adequate techniques than duration indices. Status of French precludes AM pitch accent model

49 4Meaning and rhythm interaction In spontaneous speech, and even in text reading, the accentual interlevel in Germanic languages cannot maintain a perfectly regular rhythmical pattern over time for long stretches –because the organization into meaningful units interferes –and gets precedence over the rhythmic principle. But in verse, greater regularity is achieved –and in nursery rhymes, it becomes essential –where meaning takes second place.

50 The interference between meaning and rhythm is well illustrated by the nursery rhyme from Mother Goose Every | lady | in this | land has | twenty | nails u|pon each |hand five and | twenty on | hands and | feet and | this is | true with|out de|ceit Every | lady | in this | land has | twenty | nails. on |each hand five. and | twenty on | hands and | feet and | this is | true with|out de|ceit

51 What is comparable rhythmic regularity in French verse and nursery rhymes? –i.e. the temporal regularity of prominence patterns over time? –We don't know. –We have to find out by the study of nursery rhymes in particular, because they are, of all types of speech performance, the most likely to show regularity in accompaniment of body movements. –But what we can already point out is that verse structure is different, with fixed number of syllables and rhyme.

52 Even if speech structuring by meaning is primary in spontaneous interaction, and in reading, rhythmic structuring must not be absent altogether. –it aids intelligibility: rhythmic beats guide the listener, allowing the projection of events to come –so rhythm has an essential communicative function in transmission of meaning from speaker to listener –this is where rhetorical proficiency comes in –good rhetoricians, such as Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, Helmut Schmidt, Charles de Gaulle captured listeners by commanding all the verbal and rhythmical registers of meaning transmission

53 Everyday reality looks a bit different –especially the pool of informants linguists and phoneticians usually dip into today's student population - it may not be a very serious public concern when academics arrive at the wrong generalizations about speech and language because they rely on the wrong speakers and data –but it becomes of the utmost importance to the general public when announcements at airports, stations, in trains or on planes are poorly intelligible because the untrained speakers lack rhythmicity

54 Ex 1: good rhythmicity: IViE c-rea1-m1 clear regular rhythmical beats salient groupings by pitch bracketing Ex 2: mediocre rhythmicity: IViE c-rea1a-f6 no clear regular beats groupings by pitch bracketing not salient English examples of good/mediocre rhythmicity

55 Flug 1711 nach Paris ist nun zum Einsteigen bereit. Fluggäste der Reihen 15 bis 29 bitten wir zuerst an Bord. Wir möchten Sie bitten, Ihre Bordkarten und Ausweise bereit zu halten und Ihre Mobiltelefone auszuschalten, sobald die Flugzeugtüren geschlossen sind. Air France Sky Co-Partner wünscht Ihnen einen angenehmen Fug. Vielen Dank und auf Wiedersehen.

56 5Conclusion Linguistic, phonetic, and particularly prosodic research need to reflect on what their goals are and on what they want to achieve to give a message to society. If they want to find out how humans communicate meaning in social interaction in cultural settings in the languages of the world, as I think they should, –then meaning and speech function need to be put at the centre –linguistic form and phonetic measurement only become insightful if related to meaning and function

57 In such a pursuit, the paradigms of AM, ToBI and Laboratory Phonology cannot get us very far if they put function and meaning second. or do not consider them at all. –We also need to overcome their outdated dichotomies of phonetics vs. phonology and of linguistics vs. paralinguistics. –In prosodic research, we need to consider both structuring principles, semantic and rhythmic, and investigate their interaction. –We can fall back on a rich European heritage, particularly among Romance scholars, eg. Coseriu.

58 Let me conclude with a reference to a little publication by Wilhelm Viëtor on the need to change language teaching and language learning, published in 1882 under the pseudonym

59 Quousque tandem? Der Sprachunterricht muss umkehren! Prosody Research needs to turn about! Language teaching must take a new direction!

60 Sound Patterns of German Spontaneous Speech forschung/lautmuster.en.html Speech Communication – From Acoustic Signals to Communicative Functions forschung/communication.en.html Thematic Issue of Phonetica Rhythm in Speech and Language, April 2009

Download ppt "The transmission of meaning through prosodic phrasing The case of Germanic languages versus French Klaus J. Kohler IPDS, Kiel Workshop on Intonational."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google