The illocution-prosody relationship and the Information Pattern in spontaneous speech according to the Language into Act Theory (L-AcT)

Emanuela Cresti


This paper introduces the question of the definition of reference units for speech, correlating with the necessary condition that they must be an adequate and useful means for analyzing large spoken corpora. According to Language into Act Theory (L-AcT), the utterance is the proper reference unit and the counterpart of the speech act (Austin 1962), being demarcated by prosody within the flow of speech. The pragmatic foundations of the utterance and its information structure will be described and are closely connected to the role of prosody in their identification. The pragmatic and information analysis of English and Romance examples are presented, which are taken from representative spoken corpora (C-ORAL-ROM, C-ORAL-BRAZIL, S. Barbara Corpus). Regarding the information structure, the Comment unit is considered the core of the Information Pattern and since its role is the expression of the illocution it automatically conveys the new information. The Comment may be accompanied and supported by other optional information units which are functionally differentiated. The Information Pattern is systematically demarcated by a Prosodic Pattern within an isomorphic correlation.