ASA 130th Meeting - St. Louis, MO - 1995 Nov 27 .. Dec 01

2aSC22. Timing differences between prenuclear and nuclear pitch accents in Italian.

Mariapaola D'Imperio

Dept. of Linguistics, The Ohio State Univ., Oxley Hall, 1712 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210-1298

In Italian, as in English, lexically stressed syllables can receive a pitch accent, with the last accented syllable being the most prominent (i.e., ``sentence stress''). Recent analyses based on data from Northern Italian varieties describe the nuclear accent of the neutral declarative contour as falling onto the stressed syllable (H+L[sup *]), while the prenuclear one, presenting a comparatively later peak, is described as qualitatively different from the other (H[sup *]). This analysis is problematic since there is no meaning contrast between H[sup *] and H+L[sup *]. An alternative analysis of the timing differences models the shape of both accents as H[sup *], where the high in the nuclear one is retracted due to an upcoming low tone associated with the remaining of the utterance (tonal repulsion hypothesis). A similar account has been proposed for English H[sup *] by Silverman and Pierrehumbert. This analysis predicts that the timing differences will depend on such things as the number of following stressed syllables for the L-, and also that other pitch accent types (such as the L[sup *]+H of the question) will show comparable differences. The analysis was tested by measuring the location of the fundamental frequency peak relative to the beginning of the stressed vowel in various prosodic contexts.