This thesis investigates the use of accentuation to indicate broad and
narrow focus in the Central dialect of Catalan. In response to a question
such as “Who sang the song?” English speakers can say “JOE sang the song”,
indicating the narrow focus of the answer by an accent on “Joe” and by the
absence of accents on the following words. It has been claimed that in some
Romance languages accent cannot be used to indicate focus in this way. Such
languages choose instead to alter the grammatical structure of the
response, for instance “The song, it was sung by Joe”. In this case, “Joe”
is moved to an accentual prominent position.
Estebas-Vilaplana shows that in fact the “English-type” mechanism of
achieving focus by re-structuring the prosody is fully available to a
Central Catalan speaker and goes on to explore the details of its
implementation. In doing this, she investigates quite a number of basic
issues in the intonational analysis of Catalan within the
Autosegmental-Metrical framework. She makes an interesting discovery that
Central Catalan has a boundary tone aligned with the end of the word, and
hence that a word level should be incorporated into the prosodic hierarchy.
Eva Estebas-Vilaplana currently works at the Distance Learning University
in Spain (UNED) as a lecturer in phonetics. She has published many papers
on the intonation of Catalan and Spanish. She is the author of the book
“Teach Yourself English Pronunciation”.