Question marking in Hungarian: timing and height of pitch peaks

M. Gósy, J.M.B. Terken

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    Abstract

    In Hungarian, the distinction between statements and yes/no questions is not expressed by lexical or syntactic means, but only by prosody. Yes/no questions have a pitch change in the penultimate syllable, regardless of whether or not the syllable is stressed. For sentences having a bisyllabic word in final position with sentence accent, there is a pitch change in the penultimate syllable both in statements and questions, so that such utterances are ambiguous with respect to their status as statement or question. An experiment was conducted with synthesized pitch contours, asking listeners to decide whether utterances sounded like a statement or a question. The results show that the timing of the pitch peak in the penultimate syllable, the peak height, the shape of the pitch change and the presence of an additional pitch peak in the beginning of the utterance affect its interpretation as a statement or a question. The results are discussed in terms of the perceptual and phonological properties of the utterances and the phonetic implementation of the phonological properties.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)269-281
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Phonetics
    Volume22
    Publication statusPublished - 1994

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