Metrical structure, tonal association and focus in French

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The main purpose of this paper is to show that focus is a pivot in tune-text association, which plays a central role for the anchoring of intonational tones. This paper also presents the main characteristics of the French prosodic system. The first section provides an overview of French metrical structure. The second section introduces intonational tones and profiles. Any utterance has a "Nuclear Contour" made up of three elements (T* T* T%), where T = H or L tone. It is the ‘center’ of the intonational profile and the source of copying processes. The third section concerns focus and intonation. It shows how the Nuclear Contour is mapped from right to left from the right edge of the focus domain. A sub-section is devoted to two types of cleft sentences: i) canonical clefts, and ii) broad-focus clefts. We argue in favor of a model in which the metrical grid provides prominent points for tonal association while focus divides the text into domains with specific intonational characteristics.


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