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Auteur: Tea PRŠIR

Amodal perception in experiential blending: case of prosody

Abstract/Résumé: Amodal perception refers to distinctive sensory modalities resulting in the unity of the perceived object or phenomenon: the information from one modality is translated into another. But for Stern (1985) there is more than that: for him information "transcends mode or channel and exists in some unknown supra-modal form. It is not, then, a simple issue of a direct translation across modalities" (1985:51). He suggests that information is encoded into "amodal representation, which can then be recognized in any of the sensory modes" (ibid.). Thus, amodal perception, according to Stern, to Trevarthan 2012, i.a., is a matter of movement, shape, rhythm and intensity and not of audition, vision or touch that are just channels for their expression. This is interesting for speech prosody, since its observables are movement and shape of fundamental frequency (high/low pitch, contour shape), rhythm due to duration (fast/slow speed, tempo) and intensity of articulation energy. Even in the case of a unique auditive source (e.g., radio data), speech can be perceived in an amodal way. For example, if we call somebody who is running to catch his train on his phone, his speech speed will be faster and his breathing irregular. Even before we get to know the reason of his particular prosody, we will understand that he is moving and under stress. This is so because of constant blending between different modalities that takes place independently of their presence or absence: we do not see the person running, but we have the experience of running. The model of experiential blending (Auchlin 2013) accounts for this kind of meaning construction that emerges from experience within the speech event but cannot be reduced to its propositional content. These theoretical issues will be discussed through examples of represented speech, that is, moments when the speaker changes his vocal and prosodic features while representing a quoted person. The phonostyle of quoted persons is integrated within the speaker’s: this polyphonic phenomenon provides a complex blending. It reflects how a subtle meaning can be constructed by means of prosody. I focus on two roles of prosody within experiential approach. First, the listener experiences the impact of prosodic features while interpreting discourse and therefore receives the linguistic content of the message in a particular way. Second, I am particularly interested in cases when prosody prevails in the construction of meaning because its perceptive information diverges from the linguistic one.