Edoardo Lombardi Vallauri


pdf bib
A topologic view of Topic and Focus marking in Italian
Gloria Gagliardi | Edoardo Lombardi Vallauri | Fabio Tamburini
Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC'12)

Regularities in position and level of prosodic prominences associated to patterns of Information Structure are identified for some Italian varieties. The experiments' results suggest a possibly new structural hypothesis on the role and function of the main prominence in marking information patterns. (1) An abstract and merely structural, """"topologic"""" concept of Prominence location can be conceived of, as endowed with the function of demarcation between units, before their culmination and """"description"""". This may suffice to explain much of the process by which speakers interpret the IS of utterances in discourse. Further features, such as the specific intonational contours of the different IS units, may thus represent a certain amount of redundancy. (2) Real utterances do not always signal the distribution of Topic and Focus clearly. Acoustically, many remain underspecified in this respect. This is especially true for the distinction between Topic-Focus and Broad Focus, which indeed often has no serious effects on the progression of communicative dynamism in the subsequent discourse. (3) The consistency of such results with the law of least effort, and the very high percent of matching between perceptual evaluations and automatic measurement, seem to validate the used algorithm.