Tonal placement in Tashlhiyt: How an intonation system accommodates to adverse phonological environments

Timo B. Roettger  


In most languages, words contain vowels, elements of high intensity with rich harmonic structure, enabling the  perceptual retrieval of pitch. By contrast, in Tashlhiyt, a Berber language, words can be composed entirely of voiceless segments. When an utterance consists of such words, the phonetic opportunity for the execution of intonational pitch movements is exceptionally limited. This book explores in a series of production and perception experiments how these typologically rare phonotactic patterns interact with intonational aspects of linguistic structure. It turns out that Tashlhiyt allows for a tremendously flexible placement of tonal events. Observed intonational structures can be conceived of as different solutions to a functional dilemma: The requirement to realise meaningful pitch movements in certain positions and the extent to which segments lend themselves to a clear manifestation of these pitch movements.

Timo B. Roettger, University of Cologne, IfL - Phonetik

Timo B. Roettger studied General Linguistics and Phonetics in Cologne and Edinburgh. His research interests centre around the question of how multidimensional, continuous aspects of speech can be related to discrete aspects of cognition. He attempts to answer this question by investigating how communicative functions are phonetically encoded during speech production, and how and when aspects of the speech signal are retrieved during speech perception. His recent work has appeared in Journal of Phonetics, Phonology, and Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Since finishing his PhD in Phonetics, he is currently working as a post-doc researcher in Cologne, investigating the time course of prosody-based intention recognition.

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