Carlo Gussenhoven

Does phonological prominence exist?

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Metrical Grid; Phonological Prominence; Pitch Accent; Word Stress.

There is no motivation for collapsing the prosodic structure of words and the prosodic structure of sentences of English into a single representation that expresses degrees of stress or prominence. Word stress is represented as foot structure, while sentence prosody is represented in terms of phonological phrasing and the distribution of pitch accents. The reason why native speakers can perform rating tasks for prominence on syllables is that their grammar dictates that focus-marking pitch accents be located in stressed syllables and that emphatic speech implies a hyperarticulation of pitch accents in the emphasized text. As a result, any factor, phonetic or otherwise, that affects the listener's impression of the emphasis with which the speaker expresses his message will affect the prominence rating of accentable syllables in the text. Speakers of languages with different prosodic grammars may not be able to perform such tasks.

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