Journal of the International Phonetic Association

An acoustic phonetic analysis of intonational prominence in two Australian languages

Janet Fletcher a1 and Nicholas Evans a1
a1 Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, University of Melbourne


The intonational typology of two Northern Australian languages, Dalabon and the Kundedjnjenghmi dialect of Bininj Gun-wok, suggests that these languages can be analyzed within the autosegmental-metrical framework of intonation as having two kinds of intonational events that serve to demarcate the boundaries of intonational phrases: pitch accents and boundary tones. Both languages have also previously been described as having lexical stress. In this study, the acoustic correlates of syllables associated with intonational pitch accents, were measured, namely, F0, duration, RMS amplitude and vowel quality, in one lengthy narrative text from each language. The duration of intonational phrase-final syllables was also measured. Results indicate that syllables associated with pitch accents are phonetically lengthened and have marginally higher RMS amplitude. However, there is little variation in vowel quality due to the presence of a pitch accent or intonational prominence. Final syllables are also lengthened at intonational phrase edges, indicating that duration is a cue to this level of prosodic constituency in these languages.