A corpus-based study on syntactic and phonetic prosodic phrasing boundaries in spontaneous Italian speech

Renata Savy, Miriam Voghera, University of Salerno

This work focuses on the relationship between prosodic and syntactic domains in order to investigate whether there is a preferred syntactic domain of tonal units and whether there is a preferred prosodic domain of syntactic constituents. Two independent analyses of phonetic prosodic boundaries of syntactic constituents and of syntactic structure of prosodic constituents in Italian spontaneous dialogues were carried out. On the one hand, our results confirmed data from previous studies on non-isomorphism of syntactic and prosodic constituents. On the other hand, new data are presented, which show that: 1) the coextension of prosodic and syntactic phrasing is favoured by specific syntactic structures, mainly phrases or minimal sentence structures; 2) informational and pragmatic factors as well as turn-taking frequency strongly constrain prosodic (and syntactic) phrasing; 3) the same acoustic-phonetic cues are involved in prosodic phrasing of different syntactic constituents. Index Terms: speech, Italian, prosody, syntax, phrasing.