Intonation of Contrastive Topic in Estonian

Heete Sahkai, Meelis Mihkla

Contrastive topic is an information structural category that is usually associated with a specific intonation, which tends to be similar across languages (a rising pitch accent). The aim of the present study is to examine whether this also true of Estonian. Three potential prosodic correlates of contrastive topics are examined: marking with a particular pitch accent type, an emphatic realization of the pitch accent, and a following prosodic boundary. With respect to pitch accent types, it is found that only two subjects out of eight distinguish sentences with a contrastive topic from other types of information structure; the contour bears resemblance to contrastive topic intonation in other languages (consisting of an H* accent on the contrastive topic and an HL* accent on the focus), but is not restricted to sentences with contrastive topics. A more consistent correlate turns out to be an emphatic realization of the pitch accent carried by the contrastive topic constituent. No evidence is found of a tendency to produce contrastive topics as separate prosodic phrases.

 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-840

Cite as: Sahkai, H., Mihkla, M. (2017) Intonation of Contrastive Topic in Estonian. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 3181-3185, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-840.

  author={Heete Sahkai and Meelis Mihkla},
  title={Intonation of Contrastive Topic in Estonian},
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},