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

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

Reaccentuation Or Deaccentuation: A Comparative Study of Italian and Dutch

Marc Swerts (1), Cinzia Avesani (2), Emiel Krahmer (l)

(1) IPO, Center for Research on User-System Interaction, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
(2) Istituto di Fonetica e Dialettologia, Padova, Italy

This paper reports on a comparative analysis of accentuation strategies within Italian and Dutch NPs. Accent-patterns were obtained in a (semi-)spontaneous way via a simple dialogue-game with 8 Dutch speakers and 4 Italian ones. In this way, target descriptions of all speakers were obtained in the following four contexts: all new, single contrast in the adjective, single contrast in the noun, and double contrast. It was found that the two languages both signal information status prosodically, but in a rather different way. In Dutch, accent distribution is the main discriminative factor: new and contrastive information are accented, while given information is not. Newness and contrastive accents were not intonationally different, yet a post-hoc test revealed that listeners could distinguish a contrastive intonation from a newness one, because contrastive accents generally were the sole accent in the phrase and always had the shape of a nuclear accent even in non-default positions. In Italian, distribution is not a significant factor, since within the elicited NPs both adjective and noun are always accented, irrespective of the status of the information. However, there is a gradient difference in that “given accents” are perceived as less prominent than the other two, while there is no overall perceptual difference between contrastive and newness accents.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Swerts, Marc / Avesani, Cinzia / Krahmer, Emiel (1999): "Reaccentuation or deaccentuation: a comparative study of Italian and Dutch", In ICPhS-14, 1541-1544.