Focus on consonants: prosodic prominence and the fortis-lenis contrast in English

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This study investigates the effects of intonational focus on the implementation of the fortis-lenis contrast. We analyse data from 5 speakers of different English dialects (Ocke’s colleagues), with the aim of examining the extent to which different correlates of the contrast are used by each speaker, and whether the contrast is implemented differently across different levels of focal prominence (narrow focus, broad focus, de-accentuation). The correlates examined include three measures often associated with the contrast (pre-obstruent vowel duration, consonant/vowel durational ratio, rate of application of obstruent voicing), as well as a number of lesser-investigated phenomena. Firstly, we find that individual speakers utilise different phonetic correlates to implement the fortis-lenis contrast. Secondly, focus affects several of these, with the biggest effect found with consonant/vowel ratio, and the smallest with obstruent voicing.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA sound approach to language matters : in honor of Ocke-Schwen Bohn
EditorsAnne Mette Nyvad, Michaela Hejná, Anders Højen, Anna Bothe Jespersen, Mette Hjortshøj Sørensen
Place of publicationAarhus
PublisherAarhus Universitet
Publication year2019
Pages237-270
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7507-440-2
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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