Edited by Amina Mettouchi, Martine Vanhove and Dominique Caubet
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 68] 2015
► pp. 43–60
Tone and intonation
Most of the literature on intonation derives from pioneering studies on English intonation. These authors and their followers have identified the exponents of intonation as F0, rhythm (including length and pauses) and intensity. The difficulty when studying intonation in ‘tone languages’ is that F0 is already mobilised by the lexicon and the morpho-syntax. The question is then: does pitch play a role in the intonation of tone languages, and how? Is this role comparable to that of pitch in non-tonal languages? This problem became crucial in the transcription and segmentation of the tonal languages represented in the CorpAfroas corpus of Afroasiatic languages, viz. Hausa and Zaar, two Chadic languages on the one hand, and Wolaytta, an Omotic language on the other hand.
The objectives of this study are (i) to identify the basic components of pitch that can be isolated from tone and attributed to intonation; (ii) to establish them as the elements that must be accounted for in the transcription of an oral corpus. These components are meant to be available for typological studies of the relationship between these elements as they are employed for marking of lexical and grammatical distinctions on the one hand, and intonation on the other hand. To address this problem, this study leans heavily on Zaar, a Chadic tone language spoken in the South of Bauchi State, Nigeria. Our hypothesis is that the role of pitch in Zaar intonation can be observed in the variation between post-lexical tones as they are perceived and transcribed by the native speaker and their acoustic realisation as represented by Praat and Prosogramme. These variations, i.e. the way intonation influences the realisation of post-lexical tones, fall under the following categories: (a) Declination; (b) Intonemes, which are divided into Initial intonemes (Step-down and Step-up) and Terminal intonemes (Fall, Rise, Level and High-Rise). These prosodic features (declination and intonemes) are illustrated in the first part of the paper. In the final part, an intonation pattern exemplifying the combination of these features is analysed. The examples quoted in the paper are extracted from the Zaar CorpAfroAs corpus.