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Plüschke, Mareike (2013): Peak alignment in Estonian. Dissertation, LMU München: Faculty for Languages and Literatures



Earlier studies of Estonian showed that vowel quantity words (i.e. words dif- fering only in vowel quantity) produced with an H*+L pitch accent differed in their peak alignment: While words with a short and a long vowel had a peak late in the vowel of the stressed syllable, words with an overlong vowel were characterised by a peak earlier in the vowel (e.g. Asu et al., 2009; Lippus et al., 2013). The main aim of this dissertation is to shed light on these peak alignment differences: firstly, whether these alignment differences can be ex- plained with the help of a segmental anchor; secondly, whether alignment is similarily affected by quantity differences in consonants and vowels; thirdly, whether such alignment differences are stable in regard to the prosodic con- text, more precisely in regard to the number of post-focal unstressed syllables (i.e. the vicinity to the sentence boundary) and a variation of the speaking rate. Additionally, not only the peak alignment in regard to the vicinity of an upcoming sentence boundary was investigated, but also the influence of the sentence boundary on segment durations (phrase-final lengthening - PFL). Previous studies (e.g. Krull, 1997; Asu et al., 2009) showed that PFL occurs in Estonian, but it was not studied yet whether PFL affects vowel and consonant quantity words differently. Furthermore no attempt made to explain PFL in Estonian with the help of abstract phonological models. The purpose of this dissertation is to fill this gap. This dissertation contains three different experiments which are presented in one chapter each. The first experiment (chapter 2) explored the influence of the upcoming sentence boundary and its interaction with vowel (VQ) and consonant (CQ) quantity on the peak alignment of falling nuclear H*+L pitch accents. Disyllabic target words (C 1 V 1 C 2 V 2 ) only differing in either the quantity of V 1 (VQ-words) or C 2 (CQ-words) were embedded in two different carrier sentences: in one carrier sentence the target word was followed by two unstressed syllables (long tail context) and in the other by none (short tail ixcontext). All target words occured in three quantity degrees: short (Q1), long (Q2) and overlong (Q3). There were two main results: (1) In the short tail context the peak was aligned earlier. (2) The peak alignment of VQ- and CQ-words was similar. Quantity degree differences of both VQ- and CQ- words were cued by the peak alignment in proportion to the V 1 C 2 -duration. The proportional peak alignment had the order Q3 < Q2 < Q1, where < denotes that the peak of Q3-words was proportionally timed earlier than the peak of Q2-words and so on. The second experiment (chapter 3) analysed the influence of the sentence boundary, i.e. phrase-final lengthening (PFL), on the segment durations of VQ- and CQ-words. The data used for the analysis was the same as in the first experiment. There were two main results: (1) The domain of PFL in Estonian was the main bearer of the quantity contrast, i.e. V 1 in VQ-words and C 2 in CQ-words and can be best accounted for in terms of a Structure- based model for explaining PFL (Turk and Shattuck-Hufnagel, 2007). (2) Progressive lengthening, i.e. the nearer a segment is to the final boundary the more it is lengthened, occured in the data if the lengthened segments were not in adjacent word-final position. The third experiment (chapter 4) investigated whether speaking rate in- fluences the alignment of the peak. VQ- and CQ-words were embedded in carrier sentences with one unstressed syllable following the target word. They were read in normal and fast speaking rate. There were two main results: (1) In both VQ- and CQ-words the peak alignment in proportion to the V 1 C 2 -duration had the order Q3 < Q2 < Q1, where < denotes that the peak of Q3-words was aligned earlier than the peak of Q2-words and so on. (2) Speaking rate did not influence the peak alignment in proportion to the V 1 C 2 -duration. The results of this dissertation favour in interpretation in the sense of the segmental anchoring hypothesis (see e.g. Ladd et al., 1999, 2000; Schepman et al., 2006) that tonal targets are anchored with specific points of the seg- mental string. The results of the current dissertation created the impression that in Estonian the offset of the first mora could be the anchorpoint for the peak - regardless of quantity degree and type. Differences in the proportional peak alignment emerge because the anchorpoint interacts with the temporal correlates of the quantity contrast. Compatibly with Ladd (2008), the results of the dissertation also show that peak alignment in Estonian is influenced by phonologically-induced (an increase in the number of post-focal syllables) but not phonetically-induced (faster speaking rate) time pressure.