Tonal structure and pitch targets in Italian focus constituents

Mariapaola D'Imperio


This work investigates the tonal structure of the focal accent in narrow focus statements of Neapolitan Italian. The formal properties of this accent lend themselves to two competing analyses. Specifically, this accent could equally be described as a HL accentual fall or as a LH rise. The two analyses were evaluated on the basis of a set of utterances containing focus constituents with varying number of words. Long narrow focus constituents present in fact a medial F0 minimum that appears to be an actual tonal target. Such a target might be part of either a HL or of a LH accent. Tonal as well as timing evidence appear to lend support to the LH hypothesis. An important consequence is that the final fall of statement focus constituents must be analyzed as a tonal event that is separate from the nuclear pitch accent and is analogous to the question final fall.


Focus, pitch accent, tonal target, alignment, scaling, slope, Italian

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