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Marusca, Samuil (2022) The Intonational Phonology of Daco-Romance. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Within the field of Romance phonetics and phonology, the intonation of the Daco- Romance languages (Romanian, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian) has been a much-neglected topic. In fact, until relatively recently, little was known about the general importance of intonation in speech and about its forms and functions. Intonation in Daco-Romance was investigated only marginally, usually in mainstream Romanian grammar compendia, which doomed it to be a virtually unstudied area. Although there are several short descriptions of Romanian intonation (Dascălu-Jinga 1971, 1998, 2001; Vasiliu 1965; Chițoran, Pârlog and Augerot 1984; Chițoran 2002) they were not conducted in any particular framework and were mainly impressionistic in character. It is apparent that a fresh comprehensive approach to intonation in Romanian and in Eastern Romance in general is needed as a basis for future pedagogical, typological, and comparative research. After a critical account of major intonation theories – the IPO theory, the ‘traditional British’ system and the Autosegmental-Metrical (AM) theory – it is argued that the most suitable framework in which this project should be conducted is the AM theory. The main aim of the present thesis is to propose a comprehensive model for intonation in Romanian and the other Daco-Romance varieties based on the Autosegmental-Metrical theory (Pierrehumbert 1980, Ladd 2008 [1996], Gussenhoven 2004). This will involve the first Romanian ToBI (Ro-ToBI) transcription of intonation and show how focus is realised in the language. After providing an inventory of pitch accents and boundary tones, special attention is given to broad focus and narrow/contrastive focus in yes-no questions and wh-questions, which were reported to be peculiar in Romanian intonation compared with other (Western) Romance languages (Ladd 2008). For this purpose, 12 native speakers of all four Daco-Romance varieties were interviewed, which resulted in a spontaneous corpus (short conversations or short stories), and a semi-spontaneous corpus (questionnaires specially designed to elicit broad, narrow and contrastive focus, as well as other specific types of intonation). Acoustic analyses were performed in PRAAT followed by a comparative study of Daco-Romanian, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian, and Istro-Romanian. In order to facilitate research and comparative studies across Romance languages, the data presented in this thesis was obtained using two intonation questionnaires based on the Discourse Completion Test (initially developed by Blum-Kulka et al. 1989) which 4 included some 31 situations designed to elicit a large number of specific sentence types and pragmatic meanings and eight different focus contexts. An analysis of the intonational phonology of Daco-Romance varieties suggests that they tend to align more with each other than with the non-Romance languages with which they are in contact. With respect to focus, the findings presented here suggest that the Nuclear Stress Rule (NSR) (Zubizarreta 1998; 2010) applies in Eastern Romance only to a certain extent in broad focus contexts, but not in narrow focus which allows contextual de-accenting. The results presented showed that Daco-Romance has a very rich and diverse intonational phonology as a bridge prosodic system between Slavic and Romance. The outcome of the project will not only have applications for automatic speech recognition (TTS systems) but will also help us to better understand intonational phonology in Romance in general.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Justin Watkins
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2022 13:33

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