Studies from German-speaking Europe
Avoiding melodic clashes in pitch accent production: A corpus study
Although pitch accents are influenced by discourse structure, they are not always be unambiguously related to contextual cues (Féry, 2006; Baumann, 2006; Schweitzer et al., 2009; Féry & Kügler, 2008). The present study examines whether context-independent prosodic aspects, namely a tendency for tonal alternation, affect the choice of pitch accent types. Specifically, we investigated whether the probability of alternating tones increases with accent proximity in order to avoid local melodic clashes. To this end, we studied pitch accents in a German radio news corpus (Eckart et al., 2012) and found that the distance between two successive accents affects the likelihood that the two accents differ in type. Furthermore, we observed that different phrase boundary types (intermediate vs. intonation phrase boundaries) affect pitch accent alternation differently, and that the position of an accent within the phrase influences the realization of the following accent. Our study therefore suggests that prosody-inherent factors should be taken into account when phonological and information structural categories are associated with each other.
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