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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Phonetic Correlates of Length, Stress and Definitive Accent in Tongan

Victoria Anderson, Yuko Otsuka

University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA

In Tongan, as in other Polynesian languages, vowel length is phonemic, and stress is typically penultimate. However, Churchward (1953) mentions an exception to this general pattern for Tongan, noting that stress is final when a Noun Phrase is referential. Churchward refers to this atypical stress pattern as "definitive accent." The present study empirically investigates how length, stress and definitive accent are acoustically depicted in Tongan. We propose that long vowels are indicated by doubling the duration of short vowels; that definitive accent independently increases vowel duration regardless of phonemic length; and that stress is indicated via pitch. Further, we posit that stress invariably falls on a penult. In this respect the study agrees with Taumoefolau's 2001 analysis of definitive accent, in which a final vowel geminates, with stress assignment as usual.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Anderson, Victoria / Otsuka, Yuko (2003): "Phonetic correlates of length, stress and definitive accent in tongan", In ICPhS-15, 2047-2050.