Mapping prosody and syntax as Discourse Strategies: How basic discourse units vary across genres

  • Degand L
  • Simon A
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Abstract

The aim of this contribution is to explore the identification of different types of basic discourse units (BDUs), and the role they might fulfil in discourse production and interpretation. A sampled corpus of four discourse genres (political address, radio news, conference talk and conversational narration) was annotated both for syntactic units and for prosodic units. The originality of this contribution lies in the mapping of syntactic dependency clauses and major prosodic units giving rise to four types of BDUs: congruent (one-to-one mapping), syntax-bound (one dependency clause cut off into several major prosodic units), intonation-bound (one major prosodic unit enclosing several dependency clauses) and regulatory (one discourse marker or adjunct with prosodic autonomy). Our corpus analysis revealed that prosodic and syntactic units combine in different ways depending on the genre at stake. We propose that each type of BDU represents a discourse strategy. We suggest this segmentation method should be used in the frame of discourse models, in order to provide the researcher with established basic units.

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Authors

  • Liesbeth Degand

  • Anne Catherine Simon

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