Aspects of pitch realisation in Yoruba*

Bruce Connella1 and D. Robert Ladda2

a1 University of Oxford and University of Edinburgh

a2 University of Edinburgh

A great many languages of the world exhibit phenomena of FO DOWNTREND – phenomena whereby, other things being equal, the fundamental frequency (Fo) of the speaking voice declines over the course of an utterance. That much is uncontroversial; further details are either simply unknown or the subject of considerable debate. The purpose of the study reported here was to shed light on some of these unknown or uncertain matters by the controlled investigation of pitch realisation in Yoruba.


* The research reported here represents an instance of an activity that is increasingly marginalised under the rubric of ‘curiosity-driven research’. (In fact, it originated in a bet between the authors, which both concede neither won.) As such it was not supported by any research grant. We are grateful that the freedom to engage in such research, even in the present academic and political climate in Britain, has not yet entirely vanished. More directly, we wish to record our gratitude to Lawrence (at the time a PhD student in the Department of Linguistics at Edinburgh University, now of University in Ife, Nigeria) for his careful and patient help in creating the corpus and for recruiting Yoruba speakers for the recordings. He steered us away from many pitfalls and in a very real sense made the whole study possible. Our presentation of the study owes much to comments by two anonymous referees for Phonology, and by audiences at the BAAP colloquium in Dublin (April 1988) and the 6th International Phonology Meeting in Krems (July 1988). We take full and equal responsibility for the paper in its final form; our names are given in alphabetical order.