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

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

Discourse Constraints on Peak Timing in English: Experimental Evidence

Anne Wichmann (1), Jill House (2)

(1) Department of Cultural Studies, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
(2) Department of Phonetics and Linguistics, University College London, UK

The timing of F0 peaks in accented syllables is known to be subject to a number of segmental and prosodic constraints. The experiment reported here was carried out to investigate the additional effect of topic structure on F0 peak timing. Three specially constructed English texts were read aloud by nine subjects. In the texts, each of four accented target syllables occurred in different discourse positions: paragraph/topic initial, sentence initial and sentence final. The results show that the timing of F0 peaks is consistently and significantly determined by discourse position. In sentence-final position the F0 peak is always considerably earlier than in either of the initial conditions. Sentence-initial peaks occur late in the target syllable or beyond it altogether, while in sentences which are also topic or paragraph initial, the F0 peak occurs even later.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Wichmann, Anne / House, Jill (1999): "Discourse constraints on peak timing in English: experimental evidence", In ICPhS-14, 1765-1768.