Reversed polarity questions (RPQs) in American films: corpus-based study of the relationships of prosodic features and discourse-pragmatic values

Abstract : In this talk I present a fine-grained analysis of the relationships between the prosodic features and discourse values/functions of RPQs uttered by professional actors in American movies. RPQs (also called Rhetorical Qs) are Qs that require no answer, whether an answer is given or not. I argue that these Qs (in both Wh- and polar forms) have an assertion-like content, with a sort of statement value, and their particular illocutionary force is due to a polarity reversal that makes them different from other types of Qs (information seeking/confirmation-seeking/permission-seeking Qs, etc.). The objective of the paper is to explore, from an interactional linguistic perspective, to what extent prosody and the elements of discourse-pragmatic situation contribute to the assertion-like content of RPQs. The instrumental analyses carried out in this work support the principle, now widely accepted, that the production and interpretation of an utterance in situ depends largely on the interplay between its prosody and underlying discourse interactional organization because the utterance is a situated unit of discourse (Fonagy 1982, Bolinger: 1986, Selting: 1992, Couper- Kuhlen and Selting: 1996, Wichmann: 2000, Local: 2003, Di Cristo, et al.: 2003, Szczepek Reed: 2011). The speech corpus of the present work consists of several American films (North Country, The Good German, Rain man, Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?, etc.), digitized into WAV audio files in order to visualize and measure the acoustic features of the data extracts. What makes this particular quasi-spontaneous corpus distinct from read-aloud laboratory corpus is the fact that it is natural sounding from both prosodic and interactive perspectives, and is perceived as roughly the same as a talk in a real-time naturally occurring interaction. The actors whose mundane and non- institutional face-to-face conversation RPQs constitute the corpus of this study are vocally well-trained and have a quite natural performance in terms of their verbal and non-verbal gestures, as well as bodily displays, etc. The prosodic features examined here are the following: pitch accents, nuclear contours, F0 peaks, intensity variations, segmental durations, speech rate variations, presence or absence of pause, prosodic boundaries and the speaker’s voice quality. In this work, particular attention will be paid to both the linguistic and paralinguistic functions of prosody as well as the interactive roles played by prosody in turn-in-talk transitions (Schegloff: 1998, 2007). In this respect, the prosody of RPQs in conversation will be viewed in relation to turn-construction units (TCUs). TCUs are minimal constituents of the speaker turn. The discourse-pragmatic perspective concerns the structure and patterns of interactions between interaction participants (e.g. husband-wife interaction, mother-child interaction, etc.) related to their turn taking, sequence structure (sequential development of interaction), timing, etc. As for the semiotic resources of discourse situation contributing to the recognition of RPQs, all relevant elements will be examined, including the visual channel of face-to-face conversation, which is considered a communicatively meaningful resource. Selected Bibliography - Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth and Margaret Selting (Eds.). 1996. Toward an interactional perspective on prosody and a prosodic perspective on interaction. Prosody in Conversation: Interactional studies, pp.11-56. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. - De Ruiter, Jan P.(Editor). 2012. Questions: Formal, Functional and Interactional Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. - Di Cristo, A., C. Auran, R. Bertrand, C. Chanet & C. Portes. 2003. An integrative approach to the relations of prosody to discourse: towards a multilinear representation of an interface network. (HAL: hal-00353729, version 1) - Fonagy, Ivan. 1982. Situation et signification. Amsterdam: Benjamins. - Frota, Sonia. 2002. The prosody of focus: a case study with cross-linguistic implications. Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2002, Aix en Provence, 319-322. - Han, Chung-hye. 2002. Interpreting interrogatives as rhetorical questions. Lingua, 112(3): 201-29. - Hedberg, Nancy, Juan M. Sosa, Emrah Görgülü, Morgan Mameni. The Prosody and Meaning of Wh-Questions in American English. Proceedings of Speech Prosody 2010, Chicago. - Koshik, Irene. 2005. Beyond Rhetorical Questions: Assertive Questions in Everyday Interaction. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. - Local, J. 2003. Phonetics and talk-in-interaction. Proceedings of the 15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Barcelona, pp. 115-118. - Schegloff, E. A. 1998. Reflections on studying prosody in talk-in-interaction. Language and Speech, 41 (3-4), pp. 235-267. - Schegloff, E. A. 2007. Sequence organization in interaction:a primer in conversation analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. - Selting, Margaret. 1992. Prosody in conversation. Journal of Pragmatics, 17: 315-345. - Szczepek Reed, Beatrice. 2011. Analysing conversation: an introduction to prosody. Palgrave Macmillan. - Wichmann, Anne. 2000. Intonation in text and discourse. London: Longman.
Type de document :
Communication dans un congrès
37. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft, Mar 2015, Leipzig, Germany
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Soumis le : mardi 14 avril 2015 - 15:50:56
Dernière modification le : mercredi 29 novembre 2017 - 15:01:57


  • HAL Id : hal-01142156, version 1



Kambiz Elhami. Reversed polarity questions (RPQs) in American films: corpus-based study of the relationships of prosodic features and discourse-pragmatic values. 37. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft, Mar 2015, Leipzig, Germany. 〈hal-01142156〉



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