Speech Prosody 2002

Aix-en-Provence, France
April 11-13, 2002

Aspects of Prehead and Onset: The Onset Onglide Phenomenon

Margit Aufterbeck

Department of Linguistics, University of Cambridge, UK

High pitch accents are often accompanied by a small upwardly gliding pitch slope towards the high tone target. In intonation phrase (IP) initial position, particularly when no unstressed syllables precede the accented one, it can be very hard to determine the status of this onglide: it may be connected to a low boundary tone, it may be a leading L tone associated with the onset H*, or it may be a matter of the phonetic implementation of H*. An experiment was devised that focuses on the relation between the prehead, the stretch of unstressed syllables introducing an IP, and the onset, the first accented syllable of an IP. The aim was to display the left-hand environment of the onset by systematically increasing the number of prehead syllables from none to three and observe whether the prehead pitch behavior revealed the nature of the onset onglide. Twenty speakers were asked to read aloud a passage containing twelve test sentences. Results suggest that the onglide movement is associated directly with the H* onset tone and does not spread into the preaccentual environment. Prehead pitch contours appear to be flat and do not interpolate towards the upcoming high pitch accent of the onset. Furthermore, a correlation was shown between the pitch height of the prehead and the one of the onset syllable.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Aufterbeck, Margit (2002): "Aspects of prehead and onset: the onset onglide phenomenon", In SP-2002, 155-158.