Speech Prosody 2008
This study reports on a production experiment investigating tonal and articulatory means of encoding different focus structures in German. Using an electromagnetic articulograph, we examined the movements of the upper and lower lips (related to sonority expansion) during the production of target words occurring in four different focus conditions. We found systematic differences not only between unaccented vs. accented target words (background vs. contrastive focus), but also within the category ‘accented’: the differences in articulatory expression for broad vs. contrastive focus were expressed by greater displacements and lower stiffness of lip aperture (opening and closing movements). Our results suggest that German speakers express discrete linguistic differences, namely differences in focus structure, by gradually but systematically varying sonority expansion in focus exponents across consonants and adjacent vowels, thus enhancing the syntagmatic contrast.
Bibliographic reference. Hermes, Anne / Becker, Johannes / Mücke, Doris / Baumann, Stefan / Grice, Martine (2008): "Articulatory gestures and focus marking in German", In SP-2008, 457-460.