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The role of f0 alignment in distinguishing intonation categories: evidence from American english


Fundamental frequency
autoSegmental-metrical theory
Tonal alignment
Pitch accents

How to Cite

Dilley LC, Heffner CC. The role of f0 alignment in distinguishing intonation categories: evidence from American english . J. of Speech Sci. [Internet]. 2021 Feb. 5 [cited 2023 Jun. 10];3(1):3-67. Available from:


Under the autosegmental-metrical (AM) theory of intonation, the temporal alignment of fundamental frequency (F0) patterns with respect to syllables has been claimed to distinguish pitch accent categories. Several experiments test whether differences in F0 peak or valley alignment in American English phrases would produce evidence consistent with a change from (1) a H* to a H+L* pitch accent, and (2) a L* to a L+H* pitch accent. Four stimulus series were constructed in which F0 peak or valley alignment was shifted across portions of short phrases with varying stress. In Experiment 1, participants discriminated pairs of stimuli in an AX task. In Experiment 2, participants classified stimuli as category exemplars using an AXB task. In Experiment 3, participants imitated stimuli; the alignment of F0 peaks and valleys in their productions was measured. Finally, in Experiment 4, participants judged the relative prominence of initial and final syllables in stimuli to determine whether alignment differences generated a stress shift. The results support the distinctions between H* and H+L* and between L+H* and L*. Moreover, evidence consistent with an additional category not currently predicted by most AM theories was obtained, which is proposed here to be H*+H. The results have implications for understanding phonological contrasts, phonetic interpolation in English intonation, and the transcription of prosodic contrasts in corpus-based analysis.


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