Towards a typology of prominence perception: The role of duration

Author(s): Adrian Leemann, Marie-José Kolly, Yang Li, Ricky Chan, Geraldine Kwek and Anna Jespersen


Listeners of different languages have been reported to vary significantly in prominence perception tasks. We know very little, however, about which exact cues different listeners use in these tasks. In this study, we examined the role of duration in the perception of prominence in both typologically different and related languages. The stimuli consisted of the disyllabic logatome for which the durations of the first and second syllable were systematically manipulated. 80 listeners (8 varieties*10 listeners/variety) judged the relative prominence of the two syllables. We found that differences in the sensitivity to duration cues between varieties of the same language can be equal in magnitude to those found for typologically unrelated languages. Results are discussed in light of prosodic typology and speech perception.