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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003


Phonetic Cues to Prominence in Lebanese Arabic

Dana Chahal

University of Balamand, Lebanon

This paper investigates the acoustic correlates of three phonological levels of prominence in Lebanese Arabic- lexical stress, pitch accent, and nuclear accent. The paper also examines intrinsic vowel quality effects, and investigates the realizational differences between broad and narrow focus. It was found that the higher the prominence level of a particular vowel, the higher its pitch and amplitude, the longer its duration, and the more peripheral its spectral realization within the vowel space. In addition, high vowels display intrinsically higher pitch, shorter duration and lower amplitude than low vowels. It was also found that the F0 relationship between target peaks plays a significant role in signaling broad versus narrow focus. In broad focus, nuclear accented, accented, and stressed vowels may receive similar pitch values, but are significantly differentiated in terms of non-tonal cues. Under narrow focus, however, pitch and amplitude differences between the narrow focused nuclear accents and the other target syllables within the utterance are maximized, while the other non-tonal cues are not as differentiated.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Chahal, Dana (2003): "Phonetic cues to prominence in Lebanese Arabic", In ICPhS-15, 2067-2070.