Reset inclination and prosodic parallelism in expressive speech

Tea Prsir, University of Geneva and UCLouvain

This paper describes the prosodic phenomenon of reset inclination extending over a long stretch of expressive speech in French radio press reviews. The stretch of speech delimits a thematic sequence and covers different types of reported speech units, ranging from a single clause to several utterances. Within a number of those thematic sequences, an intonational parallelism occurs. At every repetition, a reset takes place at a higher level: this makes up an inclination of the fundamental frequency for the repeated segment throughout the thematic sequence. The argument is that reset inclination constitutes a marker that has three effects: from a syntactic point of view it co-occurs with an enumeration effect; considered as an iconic representation, it is a rise because of an upward slope movement; from a pragmatic point of view it signals the speaker’s involvement and contextualises speech events. In some cases, reset inclination is also related to the superposition of voices in speech. This study aims at clarifying our understanding of the communicative function of organisational patterns in speech.