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LINGUIST List 19.3618

Tue Nov 25 2008

Diss: Phonology: Hellmuth: 'Pitch Accent Distribution in Egyptian ...'

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        1.    Sam Hellmuth, Pitch Accent Distribution in Egyptian Arabic

Message 1: Pitch Accent Distribution in Egyptian Arabic
Date: 24-Nov-2008
From: Sam Hellmuth <sh581york.ac.uk>
Subject: Pitch Accent Distribution in Egyptian Arabic
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Institution: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2006

Author: Sam Hellmuth

Dissertation Title: Pitch Accent Distribution in Egyptian Arabic

Dissertation URL: http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~sh581/thesis%20download.htm

Linguistic Field(s): Phonology

Subject Language(s): Arabic, Egyptian Spoken (arz)

Dissertation Director:
Justin Watkins

Dissertation Abstract:

Egyptian Arabic (EA) is a stress-accent language with postlexical
intonational pitch accents. This thesis investigates EA pitch accents
within the autosegmental-metrical (AM) framework (Ladd 1996). The goal of
the study is to identify the place of EA in the spectrum of
cross-linguistic prosodic variation, and to resolve the challenge it
presents to existing phonological accounts of pitch accent distribution.

In a corpus of read and (semi-)spontaneous EA speech a pitch accent was
found on (almost) every content word, and in the overwhelming majority of
cases the same pitch accent type is observed on every word. The typological
implications of EA pitch accent distribution are explored in the context of
the typology of word-prosodic variation (Hyman 2001) and variation in the
domain of pitch accent distribution is proposed as a new parameter of
prosodic variation.

A survey of EA prosodic phrasing and of the relative accentuation of
function words and content words shows that the correct generalisation for
EA is that there is a pitch accent on every Prosodic Word (PWd). A
phonological analysis is proposed within Optimality Theory (Prince &
Smolensky 1993), formalising the two-way relation between tone and prosodic
prominence at all levels of the Prosodic Hierarchy.

An experimental study suggests that alignment of the H peak in EA pitch
accents varies with stressed syllable type (cf. Ladd et al 2000), and is
analysed as phonological association of the pitch accent to the foot. A
final experiment quantifies the prosodic reflexes of information and
contrastive focus. Even when post-focal and 'given' EA words still bear a
pitch accent, but there are gradient effects of focus in the form of pitch
range manipulation. Independence of pitch accent distribution from
information structure supports the formal analysis of EA pitch accent
distribution within the phonological part of the grammar.

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