Speech Prosody 2002

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

A Comparative Study of Intonation in Three Standard Varieties of German

Christiane Ulbrich

Department of Speech Science and Phonetics, University of Halle (Saale)-Wittenberg/Germany

This paper presents a comparative analysis of declarative intonation produced by standard speakers of German from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The analysis was based on a directly comparable corpus of speech data. A perception test with phoneticians from the three countries suggested (1) that speakers from the three varieties produce different tunes on accented syllables, and (2) that there are differences in the phonetic realisation of accented syllables. German speakers produce salient intensity differences between accented and unaccented syllables but Swiss and Austrian speakers do not.

These hypotheses were investigated via phonological and acoustic analyses. The results revealed cross-varietal differences in tune structure in the German data on the one hand and the Swiss and the Austrian data on the other. Swiss and Austrian tunes ended with an intonation-phrase internal, possibly stress-seeking boundary tone followed by a final boundary tone. German utterances did not have two boundary tones. Cross-varietal differences in the phonetic realisation of accents were found also. In nuclear accents, intensity differences between accented and unaccented syllables were greater in German utterances than in Swiss and Austrian utterances.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Ulbrich, Christiane (2002): "A comparative study of intonation in three standard varieties of German", In SP-2002, 671-674.