Intonation: Theory, Models, and Applications

Athens, Greece
September 18-20, 1997


Narrow Focus and Focal Accent in the Neapolitan Variety of Italian

Mariapaola D'Imperio

The Ohio State University, Department of Linguistics, Columbus, OH, USA

Italian questions are expressed, differently from English and similarly to languages like Hungarian [4], by prosodic means alone. In the Neapolitan variety, yes/no questions with early focus present a very salient pitch accent on the focused constituent, which is followed by a smaller pitch obtrusion associated to the last stressed syllable of the intonation phrase. Results of a perception study showed that the later accent is not perceived as a focal prominence, despite the fact that it is in the position of the nuclear accent in broad focus contours. A spoken corpus of yes/no questions with narrow and broad focus was later analyzed, revealing systematic phonetic differences between the focal pitch-accent and the postfocal accent. Specifically, the postfocal accent presents a more shallow melodic movement, while its peak occurs earlier in the syllable than the focal accent peak.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  D'Imperio, Mariapaola (1997): "Narrow focus and focal accent in the neapolitan variety of Italian", In INT-1997, 87-90.