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Downtrends and post-focus intonation in Tokyo Japanese

Mariko Sugahara, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation is concerned with F0 downtrends in Tokyo Japanese: time-dependent declination, post-accent downtrend, i.e. catathesis, and post-FOCUS compression of F0 movement. I investigate in Part I (Chapters 2 and 3) how “local” or “global” those downtrends are. In that part of the thesis, I focus on the time-dependent declination (Chapter 2) and catathesis (Chapter 3). Though they have been considered to be global phenomena, I show more local aspects of those downtrends. The time-dependent declination is usually formalized as a gradually declining slope of the base line unfolding over the whole utterance or across phrases. In Chapter 2, however, I argue for an additional “tone-bound” declination slope which unfolds only between two neighboring tones. This accounts for my observation that F0 of the second tone (T2) gets substantially lower as the duration between two neighboring tones (T1 and T2) increases, while tones that follow T2 are barely affected by the duration change. The post-accent downtrend, i.e. catathesis, has been formalized as tonal space lowering. In Chapter 3, however, I propose a local “tone-by-tone” scaling model to account for catathesis . The local tone-by-tone scaling model correctly predicts that the “magnitude” of catathesis of a post-accent tone Ti diminishes as more tones intervene between Ti and the preceding pitch accent. In contrast, the global pitch range lowering model incorrectly predicts that all post-accent tones equally undergo catathesis regardless of the number of tones intervening between them and the preceding pitch accent. Another important question, examined in Part II (Chapters 4, 5 and 6), is the “structural” vs. “non-structural” character of the post-FOCUS F0 compression. According to the structural view of the post-FOCUS compression, the phenomenon is a result of the absence of phonological phrase boundaries (i.e. dephrasing) after FOCUS. The non-structural view is that the phenomenon is a result of FOCUS affecting the phonetic interpretation of tones without manipulating the hierarchical organization of phonological phrase structure. I conclude that those views are both correct. Some aspects of the post-FOCUS F0 reduction are only accounted for by dephrasing while there is also a non-structural effect unexplained by dephrasing only.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Sugahara, Mariko, "Downtrends and post-focus intonation in Tokyo Japanese" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3079597.