Prominence clash does not induce rhythmic adjustments in Italian

Francesco Burroni, Sam Tilsen


We present experimental evidence that, contrary to common belief, speakers of Italian do not adjust prominence to avoid clashes. Speakers of some languages (e.g. English, Italian) are believed to adjust prominence by shifting stress, or by deleting and/or inserting pitch accents. Although rhythmic adjustments may be produced in certain contexts (e.g. poetic verse, lexicalized phrases), we wondered whether naïve speakers produce them spontaneously. We used visual stimuli to elicit 3-word sequences with and without clash in two experiments with 24 Italian speakers. In both experiments we found no evidence for clash-induced readjustments. In Experiment 1, we observed a surprising increase in duration of the final syllable in the first word of a clashing pair. No effects were observed for F0 and intensity. In Experiment 2, we found no effects on duration, F0, and intensity on the initial syllable of the second word of a clashing pair. These findings show that Italian speakers do not adjust prominence in clash. Rather, clash induces localized increases in syllable duration. Since experimental evidence for rhythmic adjustments in English is also weak, we suggest that rhythmic adjustments may be a perceptual phenomenon, whose existence in production is constrained to specific contexts/lexical items.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-117

Cite as: Burroni, F., Tilsen, S. (2020) Prominence clash does not induce rhythmic adjustments in Italian. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 571-575, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-117.


@inproceedings{Burroni2020,
  author={Francesco Burroni and Sam Tilsen},
  title={{Prominence clash does not induce rhythmic adjustments in Italian}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={571--575},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-117},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-117}
}