15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Word-Level Prominence Distinctions in Tamil

Elinor L. Keane

Oxford University, UK

This paper examines whether Tamil makes any prominence distinctions at the word level. There are no stress-based lexical contrasts in the language, and previous work, which is largely impressionistic, has reached no consensus on the existence of prominence distinctions, or their location within either the word or phrase. Results reported here indicate that word-initial syllables are marked by phonetic correlates associated with vowel reduction, which has frequently been implicated in prominence distinctions cross-linguistically. Vowels in initial syllables are significantly longer and less centralized in quality than those of word-medial or word-final syllables. Evidence is also presented suggesting that this pattern of initial prominence is independent of phrase-level effects.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Keane, Elinor L. (2003): "Word-level prominence distinctions in Tamil", In ICPhS-15, 1257-1260.