Les interrogatives en anglais oral spontané: intonation et énonciation

Passot, Frédérique; Szlamowicz, Jean and Vialleton, Elodie (2000). Les interrogatives en anglais oral spontané: intonation et énonciation. Anglophonia-Sigma, 8 pp. 125–152.

URL: http://w3.pum.univ-tlse2.fr/~no-8-English-linguist...


We examine questions in a corpus consisting of excerpts from genuine conversations and interviews recorded among English native speakers. More specifically, we describe how intonation is involved in the formation and interpretation of questions. We successively confront syntactic criteria and pragmatic ones with the prosodic forms of questions, and finally propose an interpretation of intonation according to its enunciative value (derived from Antoine Culioli's utterer-centered approach to language, and Mary-Annick Morel and Laurent Danon-Boileau's description of spoken French). We show that a fundamental opposition distinguishes between questions with a modulated curve and those with a flat one. This distinction reflects the nature of the positioning of the utterer relatively to his / her addressee, or co-utterer. Assuming that questions are illustrative of the whole system of oral English, we eventually analyse how each prosodic parameter (melody and intensity in particular) is allowed to have a specific function in the construction of speech. We believe that intonation participates in the encoding into language of mental representations, and first and foremost the representation one has of one's addressee's thoughts-a fundamental dimension of speech acts.

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