14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999


The Initial Rhythmic Accent in French: Acoustic Data and Perceptual Investigation

Ludovic Jankowski, Corine Astésano, Albert Di Cristo

Institut de Phonétique, CNRS ESA 6057 "Parole et Langage", Université de Provence, Aix-en-Provence, France

Recent models of French accentuation hypothesize the existence of a Rhythmic Word Initial (RWI) accent distinct from emphatic or pragmatic (word-initial) accents. This paper presents acoustic correlates (F0 and duration) characterizing the RWI accent and also describes a perceptual investigation designed on the basis of these data. This investigation aims at testing hypotheses concerning the existence of an underlying accentual representation specifically associated with the initial syllable of lexical items and concerning the rhythmic motivations of the actualization of this representation. In an accent detection task we varied the Onset duration of a syllable so as to induce the perception of an accent. This syllable was localized in various positions inside a lexical item and embedded into two different rhythmic contexts (defined in terms of syllabic inter-accentual distance). Results show significantly higher detection rates in word initial position and for wide inter-accentual intervals.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Jankowski, Ludovic / Astésano, Corine / Cristo, Albert Di (1999): "The initial rhythmic accent in French: acoustic data and perceptual investigation", In ICPhS-14, 257-260.