Intonational encoding of focus in Toulousian French

Aoju Chen and Emilie Destruel, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics

Previous studies on focus marking in French have shown that post-focus deaccentuation, phrasing and phonetic cues like peak height and duration are employed to encode narrow focus but tonal patterns appear to be irrelevant. These studies either examined Standard French or did not control for the regional varieties spoken by the speakers. The present study investigated the use of all these cues in expressing narrow focus in naturally spoken declarative sentences in Toulousian French. It was found that similar to Standard French, Toulousian French uses post-focus deaccentuation and phrasing to mark focus. Different from Standard French, Toulousian French does not use the phonetic cues but use tonal patterns to encode focus. Tonal patterns ending with H\% occur more frequently in the VPs when the subject is in focus but tonal patterns ending with L\% occur more frequently in the VPs when the object is in focus. Our study thus provides a first insight into the similarities and differences in focus marking between Toulousian French and Standard French.