The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 4/27 - Danfeng Wu & Yadav Gowda (MIT)

Speaker: Danfeng Wu & Yadav Gowda (MIT)
Title: Practice Talks for Speech Prosody 2020
Time: Monday, April 27th, 5pm – 6:30pm

Abstract: Zoom link: https://mit.zoom.us/j/97125338615?pwd=Q1VIcFJjVXNlRit4ZzBoYStjRmR1UT09
Password: 003447

Title: Focus and penultimate vowel lengthening in Zulu
Authors: Danfeng Wu and Yadav Gowda
Many Bantu languages exhibit fixed placement of focus at the Immediately-After-the-Verb (IAV) position, which has been argued to be related to this position’s prosodic prominence. Elements in this position appear at the right edge of a prosodic phrase, and are subject to penultimate vowel lengthening, which we take to be a form of phrasal stress which occurs at the right edge of every prosodic phrase. Previous literature has claimed that in Zulu, focus cannot be the most prominent element in a sentence. We present evidence from a production study in Zulu showing the contrary, i.e. the degree of penultimate vowel lengthening at the IAV/vP-final position is greater than at any other prosodic phrase edge, lending phonetic support to the claim that this position is prosodically prominent in a sentence. We further show that the vP-final position is prominent regardless of whether or not it is focused, which implies that Zulu has a fixed position that realizes sentential prominence.

Title: Durational cues to stress and phrasing in post-focal contexts in English
Author: Danfeng Wu
I study two questions in English prosody through an investigation of post-focal contexts: i) whether an intermediate phrase must have a pitch accent; and ii) whether phrasal stress should be distinguished from pitch accent. The post-focal contexts are good test grounds for these questions because they are claimed to undergo ‘deaccentuation’, i.e. they lack pitch accents. This paper shows with results from a production study that intermediate phrase boundaries are preserved post-focally, implying that intermediate phrases do not have to contain pitch accent. Furthermore, there is no durational evidence that indicates the existence of phrasal stress in the absence of pitch accent.​