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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003


Alignment of the Trailing L Tone in Scottish H*+L Nuclei

Margit Aufterbeck

University of Cambridge, UK

In their analyses of British English, (Gussenhoven, 1984) and (Grabe, 1998) introduce phonological adjustment rules that apply to the basic accents H*+L and L*+H. Thus, partial linking (Gussenhoven, 1984) and DISPLACEMENT (Grabe, 1998) produce a prenuclear fall (H*+_L) where the trailing L is not reached on the postaccentual syllable but only later on a subsequent one. In both analyses, this phonological adjustment rule only applies to prenuclear, not to nuclear pitch accents, and this observation is taken as an argument for intonation phrases being internally structured into prenuclear and nuclear domains which underlie different constraints. Evidence from one variety of Scottish English, that of Anstruther in Fife, shows that partial linking, or DISPLACEMENT, can indeed apply to nuclear accents: the trailing tone of a nuclear H*+L in Anstruther Scottish English is consistently delayed until the vicinity of the IP final boundary. The present paper reports an experiment that was designed to investigate both read and spontaneous speech of younger and older speakers of Anstruther Scottish English (ASE). Statistical analyses show that speakers of ASE align the nuclear H*+L fall significantly later than speakers of Southern British English (SBE) do. Furthermore, the measurements suggest these adjustments are gradient rather than categorical in nature. Finally, the experiment shows that late nuclear alignment shows the classic distribution of sociolinguistic variables: ASE speakers manifest the feature to a much greater extent when they speak spontaneously than when they read, and younger speakers of ASE tend to show displacement to a lesser extent than older ones. The conclusions drawn from this experiment are that first, constraints on alignment are not only language but also variety specific, second, that these constraints can no longer hold as a sufficient argument for ASE nuclear pitch accents being structurally different from prenuclear ones, and third, that this dialect specific constraint is subject to sociolinguistic variation within the ASE variety.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Aufterbeck, Margit (2003): "Alignment of the trailing L tone in Scottish H*+L nuclei", In ICPhS-15, 2937-2940.