Pitch-accent language

A pitch-accent language is a type of language that, when spoken, has certain syllables in words or morphemes that are prominent, as indicated by a distinct contrasting pitch (linguistic tone) rather than by loudness or length, as in some other languages like English. Pitch-accent also contrasts with fully tonal languages like Vietnamese, Thai and Standard Chinese, in which practically every syllable can have an independent tone. Some scholars have claimed that the term "pitch accent" is not coherently defined and that pitch-accent languages are just a sub-category of tonal languages in general.[1]

Languages that have been described as pitch-accent languages include: most dialects of Serbo-Croatian, Slovene, Baltic languages, Ancient Greek, Vedic Sanskrit, Tlingit, Turkish, Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish (but not in Finland), Western Basque,[2] Yaqui,[3] certain dialects of Korean, Shanghainese,[4] and Livonian.

Pitch-accent languages tend to fall into two categories: those with a single pitch-contour (for example, high, or high–low) on the accented syllable, such as Tokyo Japanese, Western Basque, or Persian; and those in which more than one pitch-contour can occur on the accented syllable, such as Punjabi, Swedish, or Serbo-Croatian. In this latter kind, the accented syllable is also often stressed another way.

Some of the languages considered pitch-accent languages, in addition to accented words, also have accentless words (e.g., Japanese and Western Basque); in others all major words are accented (e.g., Blackfoot and Barasana).[5]

The term "pitch accent" is also used to denote a different feature, namely the use of pitch when speaking to give selective prominence (accent) to a syllable or mora within a phrase.[6]

  1. ^ Larry Hyman, "Word-Prosodic Typology", Phonology (2006), 23: 225-257 Cambridge University Press
  2. ^ Hualde, J.I. (1986), "Tone and Stress in Basque: A Preliminary Survey" (PDF). Anuario del Seminario Julio de Urquijo XX-3, 1986, pp. 867-896.
  3. ^ Demers, Richard; Escalante, Fernando; Jelinik, Eloise (1999). "Prominence in Yaqui Words". International Journal of American Linguistics. 65 (1): 40–55. doi:10.1086/466375. JSTOR 1265972. S2CID 144693748.
  4. ^ Matthew Y. Chen, Tone Sandhi: Patterns across Chinese Dialects, CUP, 2000, p. 223.
  5. ^ Levi, Susannah V. (June 2005). "Acoustic correlates of lexical accent in Turkish". Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 35 (1): 73–97. doi:10.1017/S0025100305001921. ISSN 1475-3502. S2CID 145460722.
  6. ^ Gordon, Matthew (2014). "Disentangling stress and pitch accent: A typology of prominence at different prosodic levels". In Harry van der Hulst (ed.), Word Stress: Theoretical and Typological Issues, pp. 83-118. Oxford University Press.

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