2pSC4. Pitch range and focus in Hindi.

Session: Tuesday Afternoon, May 14

Time: 1:45

Author: James D. Harnsberger
Location: Program in Linguist., Univ. of Michigan, 1076 Frieze Bldg., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Author: Jasmeet Judge
Location: Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109


A study of intonation in Hindi included sentences, read by six native speakers, in which different individual words were emphasized or focused. Hindi resembles some other languages (English, Bengali, Korean) in marking a focused constituent prosodically by reducing the normal prominence given to neighboring constituents. In Bengali and English, all constituents preceding a focused word are deaccented, failing to show typical contours [Hayes and Lahiri, Nat. Lang. Ling. Theory 9, 47--96 (1991)]. The reverse occurs in Korean, with following constituents being deaccented (Jun 1993, dissertation). In Hindi, deaccenting of following constituents is also observed; however, the phenomenon is characterized by a dramatic compression of the speaker's pitch range following the focus word. For narrow pitch ranges, compression effects on F0 realization are equivalent to those of deaccenting. For wider ranges, following constituents show the typical rising contours over content words found in declarative utterances without focus, though at a narrower range than for the focus word. The theoretical significance of Hindi focus is to illustrate language-specific differences in marking focus while supporting a general cross-linguistic strategy of reducing local prominences. These data also provide additional evidence for the head-initial (Hindi, Korean) versus head-final distinction in prosodic phrases (Bengali, English).

from ASA 131st Meeting, Indianapolis, May 1996