PhD completion seminar - Catalina Torres

The role of fundamental frequency and duration as indicators of prosodic levels in bilingual speech

Studies dealing with the intonational phonology of simultaneous bilinguals have mostly focussed on well-documented languages from WEIRD (western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic) communities, while under-documented languages remain largely under-represented. This thesis examines the prosodic structure of the two languages of a bilingual community on the island of  Lifou (New Caledonia). Drehu is an Oceanic language which has increasingly been in contact with French (Indo-European). Currently, virtually all speakers on the island are bilingual and there are only a few monolingual speakers of Drehu.

Prosody offers an organisational structure of speech which shows language-specific variability in its realisation at the phonological level. A prosodic typological view is adopted in order to characterise the languages under investigation. Drawing on data from production and perception experiments carried out during fieldwork, this talk presents the acoustic correlates of constituents in the prosodic structure of the two languages. It is shown that Lifou French is characterised by rhythmic properties which differ from French metropolitan varieties at a fine-grained level. In addition, a revision of an earlier analysis of word prosody in Drehu is proposed. This project engages with previously un(der-)documented languages and makes a contribution to linguistic investigation in the Pacific, the study of French regional varieties, and prosodic typology.

Friday 26 June, 3:15pm
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