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Cues to contrastive focus in Romanian

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Abstract

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.

References

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