14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Marking the Boundary: Utterance-Final Prosody in French Questions and Statements

Caroline L. Smith

University of New Mexico, USA

The use of two markers of prosodic finality in French, vowel lengthening and high vowel breathiness/devoicing, were compared among statements and questions of various types (echo-questions, Wh-questions, questions with inverted subject and verb). The comparison focuses on the relation between sentence-final intonation and the other markers of finality. The intonation pattern of statements and Wh-questions ends with a L% boundary tone; echo questions and inverted questions end with a H% boundary tone, like non-final stress groups. It was hypothesized that because the H% boundary tone of these questions is not unambiguously phrase-final, there would be greater use of other markers of finality. The hypothesis was contradicted by the data: statement-final vowels were more breathy and more likely to be devoiced than question-final vowels. The vowel duration results also suggest that statementfinal vowels were different from question-final vowels regardless of intonation pattern.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Smith, Caroline L. (1999): "Marking the boundary: utterance-final prosody in French questions and statements", In ICPhS-14, 1181-1184.