Cues to contrastive focus in Romanian

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In this study we measured patterns of pitch alignment, pitch range and duration in relation to broad and contrastive focus in Romanian. In declarative sentences with broad focus, speakers place a pitch accent on each lexically stressed syllable with peaks that become progressively lower towards the end of the sentence. In pre-nuclear accents, the peaks align with the post-tonic syllable. In declarative sentences with contrastive focus, speakers use strategies based on pitch and duration in order to build a maximum contrast between the word under focus and those in pre- and post-focal contexts: an expanded pitch range under focus and a reduced pitch range and shorter stressed syllables in pre- and post-focal contexts. Thus, the flat F0 and shorter segmental durations in pre- and post-focal contexts constitute a background that, in contrast, highlights the segmental durations and expanded pitch ranges found under contrastive focus.


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