Dependencies over prosodic boundary tones in spontaneous spoken Hebrew
The aim of the present study is to investigate two aspects of speech: suprasegmental characteristics and syntagmatic relations. More specifically, it focused on the segmentation role of prosody and its interface with the syntagmatic sequence. While certain prosodic boundary tones seem to break speech with correlation to syntactic phrasing, it was found that excessive elongated words are indeed prosodic breaks of various “strong” dependencies. Such a break is not due only to prosody or phonological rules, but can be attributed to the strength of syntagmatic relations (i.e. dependencies) between the elongated word and the word that precedes it, and between the elongated word and the following word. The findings suggest an encompassing approach to the prosody-syntax interface which says that through the elongated boundaries phenomenon, speakers and listeners are exposed to the tension between the prosodic strata and the syntactic strata of language, i.e. between a prosodic <i>break</i> and syntactic <i>continuity</i>. This tension occurs about 10%–18% of spontaneous Israeli Hebrew boundary tones.