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Intonation and Meaning$
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Daniel Büring

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199226269

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226269.001.0001

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Prominence, accent, focus

Prominence, accent, focus

(p.1) 1 Prominence, accent, focus
Intonation and Meaning

Daniel Büring

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 introduces the core concepts: Local valleys and peaks in the voice’s fundamental frequency are perceived as prosodic prominence, understood as emphasis, and modeled as pitch accents. By hypothesis, there is an unmarked pitch accent pattern for most, if not all, sentences in English, which can be predicted by rules. Likewise, once a constituent is selected as the focus of a sentence, additional rules can predict the effect(s) this will have on the pitch accent pattern of the sentence. While the selection of focus cannot generally be predicted (unless you’re a mind reader), there are certain contexts, such as corrections, and answers to constituent questions, in which focus choice seems entirely deterministic. These can be used to investigate properties of focussing in more detail.

Keywords:   pitch accent, prominence, emphasis, focus, Information Structure, Nuclear Pitch Accent, Default Accenting

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