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Structural and dialectal effects on pitch peak alignment in two varieties of British English

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Laurence WhiteORCiD


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We report three experiments, based on test sentences read aloud, on the influence of sentence position and phonological vowel length on the alignment of accent-related f0 peaks in Scottish Standard English (SSE) and Southern British English (RP). One experiment deals with prenuclear accent peaks and the other two with nuclear accent peaks. Three findings confirm reports in the recent literature on several other European languages. First, as has been reported for Dutch [Ladd, D.R., Mennen, I., & Schepman, A. (2000). Phonological conditioning of peak alignment in rising pitch accents in Dutch. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 107, 2685-2696], the alignment of prenuclear peaks is later with phonologically short vowels than with long ones, and the effect cannot be explained by actual vowel duration but appears to reflect syllable structure. Second, nuclear peaks are aligned much earlier (relative to the accented vowel) than prenuclear peaks, and, as in Dutch [Schepman, A., Lickley, R., & Ladd, D.R. (2006). Effects of vowel length and 'right context' on the alignment of Dutch nuclear accents. Journal of Phonetics, 34, 1-28], the effect of syllable structure appears to be absent in nuclear accents; instead, their alignment is strongly influenced by whether the accented syllable is in utterance-final position. Third, as in a number of other studies, we find evidence for differences of phonetic detail between languages or language varieties: both nuclear and prenuclear peaks are aligned later in SSE than in RP, and nuclear peaks appear to be aligned earlier in English than in Dutch. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ladd DR, Schepman A, White L, Quarmby LM, Stackhouse R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Phonetics

Year: 2009

Volume: 37

Issue: 2

Pages: 145-161

Print publication date: 01/04/2009

Online publication date: 03/02/2009

ISSN (print): 0095-4470

ISSN (electronic): 1095-8576

Publisher: Academic Press


DOI: 10.1016/j.wocn.2008.11.001


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