Intonation and Voice Quality of Northern Appalachian English : A First Look

Li-Fang Lai, Janet van Hell


This study presents preliminary results on intonation and voice phonation in northern Appalachian English (NAE). Participants were 10 native, monolingual speakers of American English who were born and raised in small towns in central and northern Pennsylvania. They worked in pairs to provide interactive dialogues. The final boundary tone, along with vowels in sentence-final-word and their H1*-H2* values were examined. Two features stand out in this dialect. First, in addition to the default falling intonation, participants also make frequent use of a level intonation in declaratives, which is likely a feature of this dialect. Second, creaky voice predominates in this dialect. Overall, in longer sentences, younger participants and females had lower H1*-H2* values (i.e., creakier vowels) in sentence/IP-final position. The occurrence of creak has even spread to sentence-medial positions, which is not explainable through prosodic properties alone. Taken together, level intonation and creaky phonation might be seen as key features separating NAE from other Appalachian dialects, which in turn suggests micro-prosodic variation in Appalachian speech. The two features also effectively distinguish NAE from other American English dialects where level pitch contour is uncommon and creaky voice, should it appear, is even creakier than that produced by NAE speakers.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-134

Cite as: Lai, L., Hell, J.V. (2020) Intonation and Voice Quality of Northern Appalachian English : A First Look. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 655-659, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-134.


@inproceedings{Lai2020,
  author={Li-Fang Lai and Janet van Hell},
  title={{Intonation and Voice Quality of Northern Appalachian English : A First Look}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={655--659},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-134},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-134}
}