Academic journal article Southwest Journal of Linguistics

On the Phonological Phrasing Patterns in the Spanish of Lima, Peru

Academic journal article Southwest Journal of Linguistics

On the Phonological Phrasing Patterns in the Spanish of Lima, Peru

Article excerpt

Abstract. The present study, inspired by Prieto's (2006) work on Peninsular Spanish, analyzes experimental data of phonological phrasing in the Spanish of Lima, Perti, via Optimality Theory (OT) (McCarthy and Prince 1993, Prince and Smolensky 1993). Examining the data reveals that final lengthening is the most salient cue to phrase divisions in this dialect. The theoretical analysis shows that prosodic constraints relating to length and weight balance of phrases outrank those dealing with syntactic alignment and cohesion. The differences found between this study and that of Prieto motivate the proposal of a constraint that prohibits increasing phonological phrase length from the beginning to the end of an intonational phrase. *

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1. INTRODUCTION. Prosody is used to divide information into chunks that demonstrate definite size and internal structure (Selkirk 1984, Steedman 1991, Zubizarreta 1998, D'Imperio et al 2005). Prosodic Phonology (Selkirk 1984, 1986; Nespor and Vogel 1986), which considers the relationship between syntax and prosody, hierarchically organizes constituents in the fashion shown in 1. The abstract levels of this hierarchy are supported by concrete phonetic evidence from experimental data found in sources such as pitch contours.

(1) Prosodic Hierarchy (1)
    IP         Intonational Phrase (Major Phrase)
    PPH        Phonological Phrase (Minor Phrase)
    PW         Prosodic Word
    F          Foot
    [sigma]    Syllable

The various levels in 1 are defined in detail by Selkirk (1984), with the top three being the most pertinent to this paper. An IP is a unit that corresponds to a portion of a sentence associated with a characteristic intonational contour or melody. In Spanish, the conclusion of an IP is signaled by a final high (H) or low (L) boundary tone or by a clear pause. A PPH denotes any level of prosodic constituent structure that may include one or more major category words (i.e. lexical categories of Noun, Verb, Adjective, and Adverb, from Chomsky 1965). The boundaries of such constituents can be located in Spanish by using phonetic cues such as fundamental frequency (F0) continuation rises ending in the final syllable of a PW, longer duration of stressed syllables, large pitch range increases or decreases, and pauses (Elordieta et al 2003, Hualde 2003, D'Imperio et al 2005, Prieto 2006). According to Truckenbrodt (1999, in press), the PPH and IP differ in that the former refers specifically to syntactic phrases (XPs or maximal projections), with heads that dominate other constituents, such as Noun Phrases (NPs), Verb Phrases (VPs), and Adjective Phrases (APs), while the latter deals with larger syntactic clauses. A PW is a phonologically relevant idea that plays a metrical role in describing main word stress. (2) In studies on Spanish intonation, it has been noted as far back as Navarro Tomas (1944) that words are considered prosodically accented if they display a F0 rise through the stressed syllable. Additionally, those such as Quilis (1993) and Face (2003) note that such F0 rises are actually the strongest cues to stress in Spanish. Therefore, in order for a lexical item to be considered as a PW, it must be prosodically accented, meaning it contains a F0 rise through the stressed syllable. (3) Furthermore, F refers to a suprasyllabic unit smaller than the word that helps describe stress patterns; however, Selkirk (1984) also notes that there is little evidence this unit is a relevant domain for phonological rules. Finally, the [sigma] is the smallest prosodic constituent in this hierarchy. (4)

Phonological rules are applied to the prosodic constituents of the hierarchy. Previously, some such as Nespor and Vogel (1986) claimed that syntactic structure is that which dominates the distribution and division of prosodic constituents. This idea especially pertains to the top two levels of the hierarchy, the IP and PPH. Although it was mentioned in such older studies that speech rate, style, and emotion can lead to restructuring of IPs into shorter IPs, D'Imperio et al (2005) emphasize that more recent studies (Steedman 1991; Ghini 1993; Ladd 1996; Truckenbrodt 1995, 1999; Selkirk 2000) have shown that prosodic boundary placement in different languages is determined by factors other than merely syntax, namely constituent weight, symmetrical distribution of constituents, and information structure. …

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