book chapter preprint: On the nature of perceptual differences between accentual peaks and plateaux

Jonathan Barnes, Alejna Brugos, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel &
Nanette Veilleux. (forthcoming). On the nature of perceptual differences
between accentual peaks and plateaux. In: O. Niebuhr (ed.), Prosodies –
Context, Function, Communication
(pp. 93-118). Berlin/New York: de
Gruyter. [pdf]

One Comment

Bert Remijsen posted on June 17, 2013 at 7:07 am

I just read this paper and found it very interesting. It contributes to the phonetic description of patterns of intonation. The comparison between American English and Neapolitan Italian illustrates that while pitch-accent labels such as L+H* refer to phonologically contrastive elements, they are not specific in terms of their phonetic realization. The authors note that this same label is used for substantially different patterns in these two systems (American English and Neapolitan Italian). Similar observations have been made elsewhere (e.g. Prieto, D’Imperio & Gili-Fivela [Language & Speech 2005], comparing English with Spanish). And yet, to understand the variability within such categories, it is necessary to express how such pitch-accents are perceived. So the phonetic difference needs to be expressed somehow, and this is a question about perception. The quantitative expression of alignment as the tonal center of gravity proposed in this paper has the potential to be sensitive to this, by discounting high f0 outside the vowel in the perceptual model of a configuration.
It is interesting to see how the contrast between American English L+H* and L*+H is realized over the post-nuclear syllable, at least in terms of the peak of the pitch-accent. (This is reminiscent of Stockholm Swedish, which has a comparable contrast with a lexical function.) It makes me wonder about the perceptual weighting of the realisational variation on the post-stress vowel. Should it be weighted in the same way as the stressed vowel? Or should it be discounted, on account of not being the stressed vowel? In the latter case, starredness would become more concrete, singling out a vowel whose influence predominates in perceptual terms.

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