Intonation: Theory, Models, and Applications

Athens, Greece
September 18-20, 1997


The Realisation of Focal Accent in English and Spanish: Similarities and Differences

Maria Luisa Garcia Lecumberri (1), Mercedes Cabrera Abreu (2), John A. Maidment (3)

(1) Universidad del Pals Vasco, Spain
(2) University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
(3) University College London, UK

In this paper we present and analyse some Spanish and English utterances of two distinct types: (a) focus-initial utterances, (b) focus-medial utterances. The data used is a selection from that found in Garcia Lecumberri [1]. The analysis is based on Pierrehumbert [2} which analyses pitch contours in terms of two tones, H(igh) and L(ow). Our generalisations about the intonational realisation of initial focus is that in both languages, it is realised as H* accents. However, there are striking differences between English and Spanish in focus medial utterances, particularly in the treatment of pre-focal material. In English, pre-focal accents are realised as H* tones, whereas in Spanish, these accents are realised as L*+H tones. In addition, there is downstep in focal accents in Spanish, something which does not occur in the English data. We discuss two alternative treatments of the Spanish medial accent pitch patterns and speculate briefly on the implications of these for intonational theory.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Garcia Lecumberri, Maria Luisa / Cabrera Abreu, Mercedes / Maidment, John A. (1997): "The realisation of focal accent in English and Spanish: similarities and differences", In INT-1997, 141-144.