Sentence modality and tempo in Neapolitan Italian

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In this paper we present evidence for the phonetic coding of the statement/question contrast through differences in durational patterns. Data from a reading task in Neapolitan Italian were analyzed using both discrete (phone durations) and continuous (local phone rate) metrics. In the first part we show that, while global utterance duration does not vary across modalities, localized temporal differences can be found at the utterance’s edges. In the second part of the paper we discuss the interplay of sentence modality and focus placement in determining the temporal pattern of the utterances, thus accounting for the lack of agreement between findings reported by previous studies. In the conclusions we discuss the potential impact of our results on phonological models of prosody and intonation.


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