5aSC20. Acquisition of contrastive emphasis.

Session: Friday Morning, December 6


Author: Stefanie Jannedy
Location: Dept. of Linguist., Ohio State Univ., 222 Oxley Hall, 1712 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210


In English, broad and late narrow focus have identical accent patterns: Pitch accents are aligned with the last accentable constituent within an intonation contour. Under early narrow focus, the pitch accent is claimed to shift to an earlier location and the last accentable syllable is deaccented. This study examined acquisition of the narrow focus pattern, using a picture-naming task, in which either the object or its color differed from the previous picture. Subjects were asked to use adjective--noun sequences to name each picture and then to name the difference from the previous picture. Spontaneous utterances from 42 children (age 3--10) and six adults were obtained with implicit and explicit contrast (narrow focus) on either adjective or noun, and labeled prosodically for pitch-accent type and location. A subset of the utterances was used in a perception experiment: 18 naive listeners judged either the adjective or the noun to be contrastively emphasized. An ANOVA on the contrast-type. Listeners consistently rate the adjective to be more emphasized when implicitly contrasted. Yet, a majority-rule count on the tonal transcriptions for accentuation on this subset shows almost exclusively ``noun-accented'' ratings, suggesting that nouns were not completely deaccented when narrow focus was on the adjective.

ASA 132nd meeting - Hawaii, December 1996