Analysen und Perspektiven
Edited By Norbert Dittmar and Nils Uwe Bahlo
Federico Albano Leoni - Prosodic Analysis: Theory, Praxis andsome Problem - 23
23 Prosodic Analysis: Theory, Praxis and Some Problem Federico Albano Leoni 0. Foreward Over the last few decades there has been a significant increase in the number of studies on prosody, due in large part to the success of autosegmental metrical phonology and its accompanying labelling system known as ToBI. In this article I would like to pose the question whether this quantitative increase in research has led to a qualitative increase in knowledge. The starting point for my argument is the fact that modern linguistics, in all its shapes and forms from the 1800s to the modern day, has always focused on discreteness and categoriality. But the structuralist quest for invariants and structure, and the generative quest for underlying representations and rules governing surface form, both hit an impasse when it comes to prosodic analysis. Why is this? One of the main reasons (Mozziconacci, 2002; Wichman, 2002; Zei, 2002) is that prosodic variations in the signal, and consequent variations in the meaning conveyed, are continuous. And it is difficult, if not impossible, to compare with any certainty, and set in biunivocal relation, events which belong to continuous categories1 because they so rarely function in neat opposition to each other. Prosody therefore is resistant to a discrete or categorizeable ap- proach. However, as often happens, what causes problems for linguists doesn’t pose any kind of difficulty for speakers/listeners. They know perfectly well how prosody works and use it to its full potential, associating prosodic profiles and meanings with ease. Prosody...
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