ISCA Archive SpeechProsody 2022
ISCA Archive SpeechProsody 2022

Disentangling emphasis from pragmatic contrastivity in the English H* ~ L+H* contrast

Amalia Arvaniti, Stella Gryllia, Cong Zhang, Katherine Marcoux

English H* and L+H* indicate new and contrastive information respectively, though some argue the difference between them is solely one of phonetic emphasis. We used (modified) Rapid Prosody Transcription to test these views. Forty-seven speakers of Standard Southern British English (SSBE) listened to 86 SSBE utterances and marked the words they considered prominent or emphatic. Accents (N = 281) were independently coded as H* or L+H* using phonetic criteria, and as contrastive or non-contrastive using pragmatic criteria. If L+H* is an emphatic H*, all L+H*s should be more prominent than H*s. If the accents mark pragmatic information, contrastivity should drive responses. Contrastive accents and L+H*s were considered more prominent than non-contrastive accents and H*s respectively. Individual responses showed different strategies: for some participants, all L+H*s were more prominent than H*s, for others, contrastive accents were more prominent than non-contrastive accents, and for still others, there was no difference between categories. These results indicate that a reason for the continuing debate about English H* and L+H* may be that the two accents form a weak contrast which some speakers acquire and attend to while others do not.


doi: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-170

Cite as: Arvaniti, A., Gryllia, S., Zhang, C., Marcoux, K. (2022) Disentangling emphasis from pragmatic contrastivity in the English H* ~ L+H* contrast. Proc. Speech Prosody 2022, 837-841, doi: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-170

@inproceedings{arvaniti22_speechprosody,
  author={Amalia Arvaniti and Stella Gryllia and Cong Zhang and Katherine Marcoux},
  title={{Disentangling emphasis from pragmatic contrastivity in the English H* ~ L+H* contrast}},
  year=2022,
  booktitle={Proc. Speech Prosody 2022},
  pages={837--841},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-170}
}