Dept. of Linguist., Box 295, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309
Dept. of Psychol., Box 345, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309
Most research on perceptual centers has been based on monosyllables in languages with stress; indeed the term ``stress beat'' is sometimes used for the same phenomenon. Accent in Japanese is mainly realized by pitch; amplitude and duration are relatively unimportant. Perceptual centers in disyllabic words perceived by four Japanese were used to investigate the characteristics of perceptual centers in the context of pitch accent. Perceptual centers occur later in disyllables with longer consonant onsets, by a magnitude comparable to that found for stressed monosyllables [e.g., Cooper et al., Percept. Psychophys. 39, 187--196 (1986)] and for Japanese monosyllables [Hoequist, Lang. Speech 26, 367--376 (1983)]. The effect of lengthening the tail (the portion following the initial consonant) of disyllables also corresponded in magnitude to that found previously. Accent placement had little or no effect. The same effect of onset duration was found for initially accented and finally accented disyllables whose duration and amplitude contour were held constant. A small accent difference with respect to the effect of tail duration was found in words of the same duration but retaining differences in amplitude contour. The results are consonant with the greater prominence effects found for amplitude and duration than for pitch in rhythmic perception.