An experimental approach to the production and perception of Norwegian tonal accent
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This dissertation examines the lexical tonal accent contrast of the Trondersk dialect of East Norwegian from the perspective of both production and perception. The goal of the production study was to conduct an in-depth investigation of the tonal accent realization in this understudied dialect, as well as to examine how the lexical accents are impacted by pragmatic focus and sentential intonation. The Trondersk dialect is unusual typologically in that it exhibits a tonal contrast on monosyllabic words. Therefore, the current study examines the contrast on disyllabic and monosyllabic words. Ten speakers were recorded reading target monosyllabic and disyllabic words representing each accent, in noncontrastive and contrastive focus, and also at the right edge of an accent phrase (AP). The goal of the perception study was to determine what cues listeners use to identify the accents. The results of the acoustic analysis revealed that the main correlate of the disyllabic accent distinction in this dialect was in the timing of the F₀ contour, with accent 2 having a later alignment of F₀ landmarks and a higher F₀ minimum than accent 1. In contrastive focus, the accent contrast was found to be enhanced. Accent 1 showed an expanded pitch range and accent 2 an even later alignment of the HL contour compared to noncontrastive focus. When produced at the end of an AP, both accents had a higher F₀ minimum and lower AP boundary tone compared to AP-medial position. The AP-final position also had an influence on segment duration, such that the stressed vowels were shorter and final vowels were longer compared to the AP-medial position. The results of the production experiments thus revealed that contrastive focus and AP-final position both affected pitch cues even though these cues are primarily used to distinguish the lexical pitch contrasts. However, the variation in pitch contour introduced by these factors did not diminish the lexical contrast. In fact, the asymmetrical impact of focus on accent 1 and accent 2 words enhanced the distinction between the two accents. For the monosyllabic contrast, the results revealed that in a noncontrastive focus realization, words with the circumflex accent have a wider HL contour compared to the unmarked accent. In contrastive focus, both accents have a wider pitch range and later low tone alignment. Unlike the effect of contrastive focus on disyllabic words where this increased the timing difference between the accents, the timing of the monosyllabic accents changed in the same direction in contrastive focus. Phonologically long vowels were also lengthened in this condition. Based on the production results, a categorization of stimuli with manipulated pitch contours was conducted. This experiment tested which acoustic cues (height and alignment of F₀ minimum, and alignment of F₀ maximum and turning point from maximum to minimum) are necessary for the perception of the tonal contrast. The results are consistent with the production findings in that changes in all of the examined acoustic cues contributed to the shift in accent categorization. The later timing of the main F₀ landmarks (F₀ maximum, F₀ minimum and turning point from maximum to minimum) induced accent 2 identification. Raising F₀ minimum height also led to more accent 2 responses. The analysis of the perception patterns furthermore revealed that the effect of a later timing of F₀ minimum was weak unless combined with a later timing of the other F₀ landmarks, or a higher F₀ minimum level, all of which contributed to more accent 2 responses. These results indicate that accent 1 is characterized by an early fall, and accent 2 by a salient initial high tone. This comprehensive investigation provided an in-depth description of the monosyllabic and disyllabic accents in this understudied, more conservative dialect that is being replaced by less conservative urban varieties. This contributes to the literature on Scandinavian accentology. Furthermore, this study adds to the literature on the realization of focus in tonal accent languages, and how prosodically marked focus and sentence intonation interact with lexical accents. Finally, this work provides insights into how production and perception constraints shape processing of pitch variation.