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Intonation et mélismes dans le discours oral spontané en bàsàa

Abstract : This work, grounded on the prosody of Bàsàa, a tone Bantu language spoken in Cameroon, draws on a long tradition of the Form-Functions of prosody developed in the Laboratoire Parole et Langage, in Aix-en-Provence.
The prosodic phenomenon in question here are Intonation and melism. The latter is a word borrowed from the domain of singing and proposed in linguistics by Caelen-Haumont and Bel (2000). It stands for a large melodic excursion over the course of a whole word or a string of words. This notion was successfully applied in French and English. Adapted to Bàsàa language, melisms are higher in pitch than the normal register of high tones. Moreover, melism is a macrolinguistic phenomenon that is superimposed to other prosodic phenomena like tone and intonation.
From a corpus of spoken radio interviews of 6 bàsàa speakers (1 female and 5 males), we applied the Momel-Melism tool, a script running under the Praat software (Boersma and Weenick).This specific tool provided us with a segmentation of human voice into 9 levels, Acute, Superior, High, Elevated, Mean, Central, Low, Inferior, Grave. Melisms are concerned only with the first three ones, which are the highest. The melisms gathered from this corpus were treated in two ways: first a phonological description and then a semantic and pragmatic description.
The phonological description consisted of bringing out the tonal correlates, provided the Momel model sorts out tonal syllables, understood as sequences of two tonal targets, automatically fixed by the script, which are different from lexical ones. Likewise, the phonological description focused on the direction of the melodic slope, and the types of melism structures in phrases. An outcome of this analysis is that it appears that melisms are not constrained by any phonological, syntactic or semantic phenomenon. Following that description, the second part of the work was concerned with the interpretation of melodic prominence on words. Four dimensions are considered here: the way melisms mark linguistic subjectivity, the way grammatical melisms act in discourse structure, by marking coherence relations, the way melisms act in information structure and finally a semantic and pragmatic interpretation of lexical networks around lexical melisms.
In conclusion, melisms can appear anywhere in the utterance, regardless of the linguistic perspective adopted: lexically subjective or not, focus or not, deictic or anaphoric, etc. The real conditioning factor for the appearance of melisms seems to be the expressiveness of the speaker.
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Contributor : Emmanuel-Moselly Makasso <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, October 15, 2008 - 3:16:21 PM
Last modification on : Monday, September 2, 2019 - 5:24:06 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Monday, June 7, 2010 - 6:44:31 PM


  • HAL Id : tel-00331172, version 1



Emmanuel-Moselly Makasso. Intonation et mélismes dans le discours oral spontané en bàsàa. Linguistique. Université de Provence - Aix-Marseille I, 2008. Français. ⟨tel-00331172⟩



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