Ventura, Caterina (2020). Production, perception and online processing of prominence in the post-focal domain. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.


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This dissertation presents a fundamentally new and in-depth investigation of the distribution of prominence in different focal structures in two varieties of Italian (the one spoken in Udine and the one spoken in Bari), by means of the implementation of a categorical analysis with the continuous prosodic parameters related to F0 and periodic energy. Results provide evidence of the fact that prominence in these varieties of Italian is conveyed by both a categorical three-way distinction and a gradual modulation: absence or presence of pitch movement in the distinction between background (post-focal position) and the focal conditions, and a gradual modification of energy and duration. The degree of prominence of words occurring in different focal structures was also investigated in perception. The reportedly different distribution of prominence found in questions for the variety of Italian spoken in Bari is shown to have an influence in the degree of perceived prominence. This influence is found in the comparison between prominence’s ratings of Bari and Udine native speakers, as well as of Bari native speakers and German native speakers, with Italian as L2. Furthermore, the present dissertation tests the real-time processing of the pitch excursion registered in the post-focal region of questions in the Bari variety. Findings confirmed that the fine-grained changes in prominence are processed in real time. Moreover, results indicate that top-down expectations play a crucial role in modulating general cognitive processes. Overall, this thesis supports the view of prosodic prominence as characterised by a bundle of cues, probabilistically distributed in the listener’s perceptual space, which form top-down expectations that play a role both in offline perception and in online processing. Signal-based factors also play a role in perception and online processing, but can however be overridden by expectations.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Ventura, Caterinacaterinaventura@gmail.comUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-522069
Date: 2020
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Fächergruppe 3: Deutsche Sprache und Literatur > Institut für Deutsche Sprache und Literatur I
Subjects: Language, Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords:
attention orientingEnglish
varieties of ItalianEnglish
L1 and L2 perceptionEnglish
post-focal positionEnglish
Date of oral exam: 3 December 2020
NameAcademic Title
Schumacher, Petra B.Prof. Dr.
Grice, MartineProf. Dr.
Baumann, Stefanapl. Prof. Dr.
Mücke, Dorisapl. Prof. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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