Phonetic effects of focus in five varieties of Dutch

Author(s): Judith Hanssen, Jörg Peters and Carlos Gussenhoven

Abstract

This study examined the effects of focus on the realization of non-final nuclear falls in five varieties along the Dutch North-Sea coast. While phonetic effects surfaced more clearly in some varieties than others, we found no dialect-specific responses to the focus manipulation. In line with the findings for Standard Dutch reported in [1], focus overall affected variables associated with the falling part of the nuclear contour. The results are interpreted in terms of hyper-articulation to express differences in communicative urgency. For sentences with higher degrees of urgency, speakers sought to maximize the pronunciation of the f0 fall inside the accented word, leading to shorter and steeper falls, which went down lower and sometimes started a little earlier. By lowering f0 in the postnuclear stretch even further, speakers added to the communicative effect of signaling greater urgency or importance in sentences with narrow or corrective focus, compared to broad focus.

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