Speech Prosody 2002

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

Tonal Effects on Rhythm in West Middle German

Jörg Peters

Institut für Germanistik, Universität Potsdam, Germany

Chanted speech differs from ordinary speech in that its intonational patterns are manifested not only with a characteristic pitch contour, but also with certain rhythmic properties. The chanted call of English and German is a well-known example. It contains a high pitch and a mid pitch, each aligned with a stressed syllable. The pitch of the chanted call is level throughout the syllables that follow the stressed syllables bearing high and mid pitch. When the stressed syllables are closely spaced, they are lengthened. The lengthening provides additional space for sustaining pitch, but it also changes the rhythmic properties of the utterance. The present paper shows that similar effects of tonal structure on rhythm may be found in ordinary speech. We report evidence from three urban vernaculars of West Middle German and propose a phonological analysis that accounts for the similarity of the regional contours to the chanted call.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Peters, Jörg (2002): "Tonal effects on rhythm in West Middle German", In SP-2002, 567-570.