Intonation: Theory, Models, and Applications

Athens, Greece
September 18-20, 1997


Accentuation Boundaries in Dutch, French and Swedish

Frédéric Beaugendre (1,3), David House (2), Dik J. Hermes (1)

(1) IPO, Center for Research on User-System Interaction, Eindhoven, The Netherlands
(2) Department of Linguistics and Phonetics, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
(3) Lernout and Hauspie Speech Products, Wemmel, Belgium

This paper presents a comparative study investigating the relation between the timing of a rising or falling pitch movement and the syllable it accentuates for three different languages: Dutch, French and Swedish. In a perception experiment, the five-syllable utterances /mamamamama/ and /a.a.a.a.a/ were provided with a relatively fast rising or falling pitch movement. The timing of the movement was systematically varied so that it accented the third or the fourth syllable. Subjects were asked to indicate which syllable they perceived as accented. The accentuation boundary (AB) was then defined as the moment before which more than half of the subjects indicated the third syllable as accented and after which more than half of the subjects indicated the fourth syllable.
The results show that there are significant differences between the different languages as to the location of the AB. In general, for the rises, well defined ABs were found, which for French were located in the middle of the vowel of the third syllable, while for Dutch and Swedish the ABs of the rises were located later in the vowel. For the falls, only for the Dutch and the Swedish listeners WAS a clear AB obtained. This was located at the end of the third syllable. For the French listeners, the fall did not yield a clear AB. This corroborates the absence of accentuation by means of falls in French. Finally, especially for the stimuli with the longer pauses between the /a/'s in Dutch, and perhaps Swedish, an interval was found were the fall induced ambiguity as to accent location.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Beaugendre, Frédéric / House, David / Hermes, Dik J. (1997): "Accentuation boundaries in dutch, French and Swedish", In INT-1997, 43-46.