Focus and penultimate vowel lengthening in Zulu

Danfeng Wu, Yadav Gowda


Many Bantu languages exhibit fixed placement of focus at the Immediately-After-the-Verb (IAV) position, which has been argued to be related to this position's prosodic prominence. Elements in this position appear at the right edge of a prosodic phrase, and are subject to penultimate vowel lengthening, which we take to be a form of phrasal stress which occurs at the right edge of every prosodic phrase. Previous literature has claimed that in Zulu, focus cannot be the most prominent element in a sentence. We present evidence from a production study in Zulu showing the contrary, i.e. the degree of penultimate vowel lengthening at the IAV/vP-final position is greater than at any other prosodic phrase edge, lending phonetic support to the claim that this position is prosodically prominent in a sentence. We further show that the vP-final position is prominent regardless of whether or not it is focused, which implies that Zulu has a fixed position that realizes sentential prominence.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-28

Cite as: Wu, D., Gowda, Y. (2020) Focus and penultimate vowel lengthening in Zulu. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 136-140, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-28.


@inproceedings{Wu2020,
  author={Danfeng Wu and Yadav Gowda},
  title={{Focus and penultimate vowel lengthening in Zulu}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={136--140},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-28},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-28}
}