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Journal Article

Melodic constructions in Spanish: Metrical structure determines the association properties of intonational tones


Torreira,  Francisco
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
McGill University, Canada;

Supplementary Material (public)

Torreira, F., & Grice, M. (2018). Melodic constructions in Spanish: Metrical structure determines the association properties of intonational tones. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 48(1), 9-32. doi:10.1017/S0025100317000603.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-4CEB-2
This paper explores phrase-length-related alternations in the association of tones to positions in metrical structure in two melodic constructions of Spanish. An imitation-and-completion task eliciting (a) the low–falling–rising contour and (b) the circumflex contour on intonation phrases (IPs) of one, two, and three prosodic words revealed that, although the focus structure and pragmatic context is constant across conditions, phrases containing one prosodic word differ in their nuclear (i.e. final) pitch accents and edge tones from phrases containing more than one prosodic word. For contour (a), short intonation phrases (e.g. [ Ma no lo ] IP ) were produced with a low accent followed by a high edge tone (L ∗ H% in ToBI notation), whereas longer phrases (e.g. [ El her ma no de la a m igadeMa no lo ] IP ‘Manolo’s friend’s brother’) had a low accent on the first stressed syllable, a rising accent on the last stressed syllable, and a low edge tone (L ∗ L+H ∗ L%). For contour (b), short phrases were produced with a high–rise (L+H ∗ ¡H%), whereas longer phrases were produced with an initial accentual rise followed by an upstepped rise–fall (L+H ∗ ¡H ∗ L%). These findings imply that the common practice of describing the structure of intonation contours as consisting of a constant nuclear pitch accent and following edge tone is not adequate for modeling Spanish intonation. To capture the observed melodic alternations, we argue for clearer separation between tones and metrical structure, whereby intonational tones do not necessarily have an intrinsic culminative or delimitative function (i.e. as pitch accents or as edge tones). Instead, this function results from melody-specific principles of tonal–metrical association.