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May 2022

Focus conditions and the prominence of pitch-accented syllables

Author(s): Collier, R.

Journal/Book: Lang Speech. 1996; 39: 43, Derwent Rd, Whitton, Twickenham, Middlesex, England TW2 7HQ. Kingston Press Services Ltd. 1-17.

Abstract: The purpose of the present study is to find out how the pitch peak heights on two pitch-accented syllables in one utterance relate to different focus conditions. The focus conditions are neutral focus, double contrastive focus, and single contrastive focus on either the first or the second pitch-accented syllable. In Experiment 1, subjects adjusted the height of one of two pitch peaks, so as to make the pitch contour express different focus structures. No systematic relationship was found between different fixed heights of one peak and the adjusted heights of the other, which suggests the existence of target values for focus-related pitch peaks. In Experiment 2, listeners judged which of the four focus structures was most likely represented by a given relation between peak heights. The results show that some pitch contours are ambiguous with respect to focus, but the majority of them is classified unanimously as signalling only one possible focus structure. The present results also shed new light on some unexplained findings of earlier prominence experiments.

Note: Article R Collier, Inst Percept Res, Ipo, POB 513, NL-5600 MB Eindhoven, Netherlands

Keyword(s): focus; fundamental frequency; intonation; pitch; prominence; FUNDAMENTAL-FREQUENCY DECLINATION; AUDITORY FILTER SHAPES; PERCEIVED PROMINENCE; SPEECH INTONATION


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