LINGUIST List 26.2877

Thu Jun 11 2015

Diss: Bengali; Phonetics, Phonology: Sameer ud Dowla Khan: 'Intonational phonology and focus prosody of Bengali'

Editor for this issue: Ashley Parker <>

Date: 11-Jun-2015
From: Sameer ud Dowla Khan <>
Subject: Intonational phonology and focus prosody of Bengali
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Institution: University of California, Los Angeles
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Sameer ud Dowla Khan

Dissertation Title: Intonational phonology and focus prosody of Bengali

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Subject Language(s): Bengali (ben)

Dissertation Director(s):
Sun-Ah Jun
Bruce Hayes
Patricia Keating
Kie Zuraw
Jody Kreiman

Dissertation Abstract:

Using a framework based on the autosegmental-metrical model of intonational phonology and the transcription system known as Tones and Break Indices, or ToBI, the current study analyzes data from 20 speakers of Bangladeshi Standard Bengali to construct a comprehensive model of intonational phonology and a prosodic transcription system for Bengali (i.e. B-ToBI). The current model finds that Bangladeshi Standard Bengali has a rich tonal inventory, including pitch accents—associated to metrically-prominent positions of the sentence—and boundary tones—associated to the edges of three prosodic units: the accentual phrase, the intermediate phrase, and the intonation phrase. As phonological units, these tones interact with one another and undergo various changes due to phonological constraints on the intonational contour. Furthermore, the current study finds that focus is prosodically marked through the use of a special high tone, which can surface in one of three realization patterns depending on the type of focus, as well as through distinctive phrasing patterns. The current model incorporates data collected from speakers with a wide range of dialect influences, and is thus also able to capture much of the patterns observed in previous studies of other dialects of the language, while also providing a large corpus of new data for future research in Bengali prosody.

Page Updated: 11-Jun-2015