Speech Prosody 2008

Campinas, Brazil
May 6-9, 2008

The Role of Duration as a Phonetic Correlate of Focus

Frank Kügler

Institute of Linguistics, University of Potsdam, Germany

The aim of the present paper is to collect quantitative data on durational patterns of target words in different information structure conditions. The acoustic data will be the basis for the manipulation of stimuli to conduct perception tests that will deal with the role of duration as a correlate of focus prominence. For that purpose, a production study is presented that investigates the effects of information structure (wide, narrow, and contrastive focus, prefocal and postfocal givenness), sentence length and position in a sentence on duration of a target constituent in German. Duration of target constituents was measured in 400 utterances produced by 10 speakers. The predictions that focus increases target word duration has been confirmed, while the expected decrease in duration due to givenness has only been confirmed for prefocal given constituents. Postfocally, duration is equivalent to wide focus duration. The effects of sentence length and position have only partly been confirmed; a constituent seems to be shorter in longer sentences than in short ones, and target words occurring early in a sentence appear to be longer than late occurring ones.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Kügler, Frank (2008): "The role of duration as a phonetic correlate of focus", In SP-2008, 591-594.