Prominence Is Not Cued Only Acoustically

Shinobu Mizuguchi, Koichi Tateishi


To highlight prominence in an utterance, prosody - part of the acoustic information - plays an important role. Previous cross-linguistic studies on prosody have found that prosodic cues vary among individuals and languages. This paper discusses prominence in Japanese. Japanese is a mora-timed pitch language. Acoustically, it has Accented and Unaccented words which are lexically determined. Prosodically, its utterance has a downstepping pitch contour, called ‘downtrend’. Informationally, Japanese has morphosyntactic topic/focus focus markers wa/ga. Because of these attributes, it is a good language to see the correlation between acoustic, syntactic and informational properties that make utterances prominent. We have conducted two experiments in this study; one on lexical accents and focus identification, and the other on prominence marking in spontaneous speech. Our findings are (i) acoustic focus cues are not strong enough to make focus prominent in Japanese, and (ii) Japanese uses acoustic as well as syntactic boundary cues to highlight prominence. Previous works on prosody have mostly been on acoustic features, and this study of ours contributes to the growing body of cross-linguistic work on prominence.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-24

Cite as: Mizuguchi, S., Tateishi, K. (2020) Prominence Is Not Cued Only Acoustically. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 116-120, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-24.


@inproceedings{Mizuguchi2020,
  author={Shinobu Mizuguchi and Koichi Tateishi},
  title={{Prominence Is Not Cued Only Acoustically}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={116--120},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-24},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-24}
}