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Intonation and Meaning$
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Daniel Büring

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199226269

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226269.001.0001

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The meaning of tones

The meaning of tones

(p.219) 9 The meaning of tones
Intonation and Meaning

Daniel Büring

Oxford University Press

A given prosodic structure—prosodic constituents, metrical stress, and pitch accents aligned with them—may be realized in different ways, depending on the shape of individual accents or the overall ‘tune’ created by them. Theories exist about the effects of various choices of so-called boundary tones—marking the right edges of the intermediate/intonational phrases—running the gamut from the signaling of structural or rhetorical sub/superordination to speech act types and speakers’ commitments. Likewise, approaches to the choice of pitch accents variously relate it to accessibility status, common ground, rhetorical relations, or speakers’ expectations and commitments. Controversy surrounds the question whether the meaning/function of pitch accents resides at the level of individual tones, complex accents, or entire tunes. Experimental studies shed some light on the empirical picture, but more work seems required in this realm. The chapter closes with a discussion of contrastive topic and rise–fall–rise accents.

Keywords:   intonational meaning, intonational morphemes, text-to-tune alignment, rising intonation, accent alignment, contrastive topic, rise–fall–rise contour

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