Prosodic marking of information status in Dutch and Italian: a comparative analysis

This article reports on a comparative analysis of accentuation
strategies within Italian and Dutch noun phrases (NPs). Its goal is
not only to gain insight into what speakers do, but also into how the
listenersÂ’perception and interpretation of incoming speech in
differentlanguages is affected by the distribution of accents. To this
end, use ismade of a particular experimental paradigm, which
makes it possible to compare accent patterns in different languages
from an acoustic, perceptual and functional point of view. Accent
patterns were obtained via a simple dialogue game played by eight
Dutch speakers and eight Italian ones. In this way, target
descriptions of all speakers were obtained in the following four
contexts: all new, single contrast in the adjective, single contrast in
the noun, and double contrast. The accent patterns in these Dutch
and Italian utterances were then compared in three different studies.
Study 1 looks at accent distribution and finds that, in Dutch, new and
contrastive information are accented, while given information is not;
in Italian, distribution is not a significant factor in distinguishing
information status, since within the elicited NPs both adjective and
noun are always accented, irrespective of the status of the discourse
Study 2 consists of prominence tests to investigate whether the
accents differ in the degree of perceived emphasis. In Dutch,
information status is reflected in these prominence differences:
single contrastive accents are perceived to be the most emphatic,
and given words the least emphatic. In Italian, it is less clear how
gradient differences between accents can be linked to aspects of the
discourse context.
Study 3 presents a functional analysis of accent patterns in
that it explores whether listeners are able to reconstruct a preceding
utterance on the basis of prosodic properties of the current utterance.

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Author or Creator: 
Avesani C.
Elsevier, New York, Regno Unito
Journal of phonetics (Print) 30,4 (2002): 629–654. doi:10.1006/jpho.2002.0178
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Swerts, M., Krahmer, E., Avesani C./titolo:Prosodic marking of information status in Dutch and Italian: a comparative analysis/doi:10.1006/jpho.2002.0178/rivista:Journal of phonetics (Print)/anno:2002/pagina_da:629/pagina_a:654
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ISTC Author: 
Ritratto di Cinzia Avesani
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