Schwiertz, Gabriele (2009). Intonation & Prosodic Structure in Beaver (Athabaskan) - Explorations on the language of the Danezaa. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.


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This dissertation reports on qualitative and quantitative investigations on the intonation and the prosodic structure of Beaver, an endangered Athabaskan language of Northwest Canada. The focus of the study is on the Northern Alberta dialect of Beaver, which has lexical tone and is a high marking Athabaskan language. The theoretical framework of the analysis is the Autosegmental Metrical (AM) theory. Following some background on intonation and prosody as well as the theoretical modelling, we summarize contributions dealing with intonation in languages that share certain features with Beaver, i.e. tone languages, polysynthetic languages and finally the related Athabaskan languages. After a brief introduction to the grammatical structure and the sociolinguistic situation of Northern Alberta Beaver, the database of the present study is introduced. It consists of narratives and task oriented dialogues as well as recordings elicited with stimuli sets. In the domain of intonation and prosody, three topics are investigated in detail. First, domain initial prosodic strengthening is analyzed. We show that a boundary initial position at higher constituents of the prosodic hierarchy has a lengthening effect on VOT of both aspirated and unaspirated plosives, while nasals are shortened in this context. Additionally, effects of morphological category (stem vs. prefix) and intervocalic position � two mechanisms that have been described for other Athabaskan languages � are also attested for Beaver to some degree. Second, the intonational tones that have been found in the corpus are analyzed within the AM theory. In Northern Alberta Beaver, boundary tones and phrase accents make up the intonational inventory. Most notably, an initial phrase accent is used to mark contrast, which is a device that has not been reported for the marking of information structure in other languages. Lastly, the interaction of information structure with pitch range in complex noun phrases is tested in a controlled experiment. Here, we find that pitch range is significantly wider for new information than for given, which is due to a raising of the top line, while the baseline is not affected to the same extend.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
Translated title:
Intonation und prosodische Struktur im Beaver (Athabaskisch)German
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Schwiertz, Gabrielegabrielemueller@gmail.comUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-29353
Date: 2009
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 1: Kunstgeschichte, Musikwissenschaft, Medienkultur und Theater, Linguistik, IDH > Institut für Linguistik > Phonetik
Subjects: Language, Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Intonation, Prosodie, Beaver, Athabaskisch,German
intonation, prosody, Beaver, AthabaskanEnglish
Date of oral exam: 26 May 2009
NameAcademic Title
Grice, MartineProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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