Contours as constructions

  • Jean-Marie Marandin


The paper proposes a constructional approach to the analysis of intonation: contours are construed as constructions on a par with lexical and syntactic constructions in the sense of Construction Grammar. An inheritance hierarchy for French contours is defined. It has the following features. First, it could be integrated into an HPSG grammar which includes intonation. Secondly, it accounts both for the unmarked contours that belong to the intonational lexicon of French and the stylized contours (SCs) that have long been considered the equivalent of lexico-syntactic idioms in intonation. Thirdly, it implements Ladd’s (1978) proposal that SCs are “plain intonations with something added (a modification of more basic contours ..)”. In particular, I propose that the modification pertains to the form (level pitch), but also to the meaning of SCs: SC meaning combines the value of a plain contour and the effects linked to the mentioning of that contour.

Special Volume 1 (guest editor: Doris Schönefeld)