Sun-Ah-Jun, Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles presents a typology of word prominence: an update
Abstract: Languages differ in ways to make a word prominent in an utterance. In languages that have lexical stress like English, it is well established that a word becomes prominent by assigning a pitch accent on its stressed syllable. But for languages without stress like Korean, Jun (2005, 2014) claimed that a word becomes prominent by marking the edges of the word with an Accentual Phrase (AP) boundary tone. Based on word prosody and the intonation system of languages, Jun proposed three types of word prominence marking: (1) “head”-prominence languages like English, (2) “edge”-prominence languages like Korean, and (3) “head/edge”- prominence languages like Bengali and French. The head/edge-prominence languages mark word prominence by both a pitch accent and AP tones. It has been observed that head/edgeprominence languages typically have a ‘weak’ head phonetically and phonologically, i.e., the acoustic correlates of stress are weak and stress is not distinctive due to having a fixed location of stress. Since only edge- and head/edge-prominence languages have an AP, it was hypothesized that languages use AP tones to mark word prominence to compensate for the weak or lack of head marking. Drawing on my recent research, however, I’ll demonstrate that the link between word prosody, AP, and prominence type needs to be loosened because a language can have both a ‘strong’ head and an AP, but only one of them can be involved in marking word prominence (e.g., Guarani) or either can be used to mark word prominence depending on information structure considerations (e.g., Farasani Arabic).
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