Effects of information structure, syllable structure, and voicing on nuclear falling pitch accents in German

Author(s): Frank Kügler and Susanne Genzel

Abstract

Previous work showed that tonal alignment distinguishes information status (given/new), that syllable structure affects alignment and that the scaling and alignment of tones correlate with focus. We investigate the interaction of these effects on the tonal realization of nuclear falling accents in German. In a production experiment, syllable structure [± open syllable] and voicing of the following consonant [± voice] was systematically varied in four different information structure contexts: broad focus, narrow focus, contrastive focus and givenness. The results show that [± voice] of the following consonant had a significant effect: The F0 peak of the nuclear falling accents is systematically realized in the post-accented syllable if it was followed by a [+voice] consonant while it is realized towards the end of the accented syllable if it was followed by [-voice] consonant. The results further replicate well-established effects of information structure on the tonal alignment and scaling. The reported results will add to a growing body of studies on fine phonetic detail. In addition, results will also have consequences for annotation of German intonation.

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