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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Hispanic Literatures & Linguistics

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Meghan Armstrong-Abrami

Second Advisor

Maria Biezma

Subject Categories

Spanish Linguistics


This dissertation investigates the intonational form and meaning of two contours realized in utterance-initial vocatives in Asturian, an understudied minority Romance language spoken in NW Spain. In doing so, this work takes an integrated approach to the study of intonation, in which the analysis of form and meaning reciprocally inform each other. The results from a production experiment that analyzed the patterns of tonal alignment and scaling of relevant F0 maxima and minima within the Autosegmental-Metrical framework showed that the two vocative contours under study contain a bitonal pitch accent each, and they are labeled as L+H* L% and H+L* L%, respectively (phonetic transcription). In the absence of pre-tonic syllables, the proximity of the utterance’s left prosodic edge affects the implementation of each tune differently. L+H* L% is only affected when the initial syllable’s onset consonant is unvoiced; in such cases, the initial F0 rise is truncated (tune-to-text accommodation). As for H+L* L%, the lack of pre-tonic material imposes a phonological restriction on its implementation. In this case, speakers insert the phrase-initial marker a-, automatically providing the H(igh) leading tone with an anchoring site (text-to-tune adjustment). This data show native speakers of Asturian are aware of which tonal targets are indispensable for facilitating the retrieval of tune meaning and that, when facing text-tune conflicts at the left prosodic edge, they use specific adjustment strategies accordingly. Whether the tune is accommodated to the text or vice versa will ultimately depend on the communicative gain/loss of each strategy. The results from a perception experiment revealed that vocative contours in Asturian systematically encode different meanings. While L+H* L% only fulfills a calling function, and its use is acceptable across experimental contexts, the use of H+L* L% is more constrained. This contour, in addition to vocative-marking, is used to encode epistemic information about the speaker’s attitude regarding something salient in the context of utterance that does not align with their expectations. A formal analysis of the meaning conveyed by H+L* L% is provided. Taken together, the results presented in this dissertation show that speaker’s choice of tune is a complex process in which form- and meaning-related factors dynamically interact with each other. Asturian utterance-initial vocatives represent an example of how, in order to fully understand this process, it is necessary to take a holistic perspective that integrates the study of both intonational form and function.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License