ACOUSTIC EFFECTS OF FOCUS AND SENTENCE POSITION ON STRESS IN ENGLISH AND FRENCH
Ph.D. Dissertation, 1989
Acoustic correlates of phrase-final and focal stress are reported for
English and French. Both languages use sentence stress to mark a phrase
boundary and provide focus to new information in the discourse. A production
and a perception task were designed with two goals: (1) to describe the
behavior of the acoustic signal when phrase-final and focal stress occur
in the same sentence, and (2) to identify acoustic correlates of stress
common to both functions of sentence stress in English and French. The
results indicate the following: (1) the traditional acoustic correlates
of stress are appropriate for English, but not for French, (2) an early
maximum amplitude is correlated with both functions of sentence stress
in both languages, (3) a falling amplitude contour is associated with
stress in English and a falling fundamental frequency contour is associated
with stress in French, and (4) the acoustic correlates of stress are additive
when phrase-final and focal stress converge within a sentence in English
and French. The results suggest the theoretical need to account for both
functions of stress, and suggest the amplitude contour as an important
acoustic correlate of stress.
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