Preboundary lengthening in Somali

David Le Gac, Sabrina Bendjaballah

Preboundary lengthening (PBL) refers to the phenomenon whereby segments located immediately before certain boundaries are longer than segments located earlier in the utterance. Together with boundary tones, PBL constitutes one of the most consistent phonetic correlates of prosodic structure crosslinguistically. Somali is a Cushitic language with tonal-accent. To date, very few studies have investigated Somali prosody at the sentence level. Downstep and the use of boundary tones have been reported but both processes seem to have inconsistent characteristics and to be speaker-dependent. To our knowledge, the issue of segment duration in this context has not been addressed yet. This paper aims at filling this gap. We conducted a production experiment with four Somali native speakers reading a controlled corpus. We measured vowel duration (VD) before three syntactic boundaries that were defined so as to instanciate different levels of strength. Since pauses frequently appear, we also measured VD before pause. We compared the values obtained for VD in these contexts with word-internal VD. The results show a significant effect of syntactic boundary strength and pause, leading to four distinct degrees of VD. We discuss the implications of this result on Somali prosodic structure in the light of current relevant theories.

 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-32

Cite as: Gac, D.L., Bendjaballah, S. (2020) Preboundary lengthening in Somali. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 156-160, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-32.

  author={David Le Gac and Sabrina Bendjaballah},
  title={{Preboundary lengthening in Somali}},
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},