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Séminaire & Soutenance HDR Christelle Portes

December 1 @ 10:00 - 19:00

10h Stefan Baumann (University of Cologne, Germany) or Brechtje Post (University of Cambridge, England)

11h Coffee break

11h30 Stefan Baumann (University of Cologne, Germany) ou Brechtje Post (University of Cambridge, England)

12h30 Lunch ILCB

14h Soutenance HDR, Cristel Portes (Aix-Marseille University & CNRS/LPL)

17h Apéro



Head movements and pitch accents as cues to information status in (L1 and L2) French

Stefan Baumann & Florence Baills

Languages differ in the way prosodic prominence is implemented to mark information status or focus (e.g. Kügler & Calhoun, 2020). At a parallel level of description, gestures have been found to occur more frequently with new and inferable referents than with given ones (e.g. Debreslioska & Gullberg 2020). For foreign languages, previous research has shown that deaccenting given information may be challenging for speakers of languages which use this strategy less (e.g. Rasier & Hiligsmann 2007). As for gestures, there is evidence that learners tend to over-explicitly mark referring expressions such as pronouns (Yoshioka 2008). To our knowledge, an analysis of information status expressed through both prosodic and gestural prominence (here: head movements) in L2 speech has not been carried out so far. In the present study, 25 Catalan learners of French were video recorded giving a short description of their best friend in French. The recordings were annotated in terms of information status (RefLex Scheme, Riester & Baumann 2017), pitch accents (F_ToBI, Delais- Roussarie et al. 2015), perceived prominence (DIMA, Kügler et al. 2022) and head movement types and apexes (M3D, Rohrer et al. 2020). Results show that Catalan learners of French marked new and inferable information more than given information either with pitch accents alone or with a combination of pitch accents and gestures. Given information was generally marked as less prominent than new(er) information (more initial accents, fewer rises, lower level of perceived prominence, fewer head movements) but still received a large proportion of pitch accents. However, no difference between the types of accent and only slight differences between the types of head movement were found in non-given categories. The results of an analysis of the same task by 7 French native speakers are compared with the learners’ results. L1 French speakers mark the extreme values of information status (i.e. given and new) in a more pronounced way using more fine-grained differences in pitch accent type.


Debreslioska, S., & Gullberg, M. (2020). What’s New? Gestures accompany inferable rather than brand-new referents in discourse. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1935.

Delais-Roussarie et al. (2015) Intonational Phonology of French: Developing a ToBI system for French In S. Frota & P. Prieto (Eds.), Intonation in Romance. OUP.

Kügler, F., Baumann, S. & Röhr, C.T. (2022). Deutsche Intonation, Modellierung und Annotation (DIMA) – Richtlinien zur prosodischen Annotation des Deutschen. In: Schwarze, C. & Grawunder, S. (Eds.),

Transkription und Annotation gesprochener Sprache und multimodaler Interaktion (pp. 23–54). Narr. Kügler, F. & Calhoun, S. (2020). Prosodic encoding of information structure: A typological perspective. The Oxford Handbook of Language Prosody (pp. 454–467). Oxford Academic.

Rasier, L. & Hiligsmann, P. (2007). Prosodic transfer from L1 to L2. Theoretical and methodological issues. Nouveaux cahiers de linguistique française, 28, 41–66.

Riester, A. & Baumann S. (2017). The RefLex Scheme – Annotation Guidelines. SinSpeC. Working Papers of the SFB 732, vol. 14. University of Stuttgart.

Rohrer, P., Vilà-Giménez, I, Florit-Pons, J., Esteve-Gibert, N., Ren, A., Shattuck-Hufnagel, S., Prieto, P. (2020).

The MultiModal MultiDimensional (M3D) labeling system. Yoshioka, K. (2008). Gesture and information structure in first and second language. Gesture, 8, 236–255.


December 1
10:00 - 19:00
Event Category:


B011 LPL
5 avenue Pasteur
Aix-en-Provence, 13100 France
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