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Iconic interpretation of rhythm in speech

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Abstract

Approaches to iconicity are most often related to fundamental frequency (Ohala 1984). This article examines to what extent rhythm in speech is perceived and interpreted iconically. Iconic rhythmic patterns that imitate part of the lexical or syntactic content have no codified meaning in the system of a language. On the other hand, scansion or variation in speech rate and tempo may act as contextualization cues (Gumperz 1992). We propose to distinguish between three types of rhythmic iconicity: iconicity on a local (word or phrase) and on a global (utterance or sequence of utterances) level, and contextualization provoked by contrast between sequences. Keywords: rhythm; iconicity; radio press reviews; corpus

References

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