Prosody in constituents beyond the word

South American languages, in particular Amazonian languages, have been described as displaying interesting prosodic phenomena involving pitch and nasalization (Dixon & Aikhenvald 1999, Gomez-Imbert & Kenstowicz 2000, Storto & Demolin 2012, Aikhenvald 2012). We invite linguists working on these languages to present their results on prosodic phenomena beyond the word level. Papers on other types of phonological processes (for instance, lenition, vowel elision or epenthesis) taking place in prosodic environments beyond the phonological word are also welcome.

First, it is important to distinguish between three different types of phenomena involving pitch: stress, pitch accent and tone. In stress languages, fundamental frequency may be used to give saliency to one syllable per word (and perhaps more than one, if the language has secondary stress) in the form of a higher pitch possibly with greater duration and intensity. Tone languages have one pitch melody per syllable/mora distributed in an unpredictable manner inside the word. Pitch accent languages have mixed systems. This call for papers encourages researchers working on languages in which pitch is used linguistically to present the patterns they have found involving fundamental frequency in domains beyond the word - that is, in phrases, clauses and/or sentences.

In all types of languages pitch curves may still be used to distinguish between clause or sentence types. Such intonation patterns should be the topic of presentations, especially if they relate to grammatical categories such as tense, mood, evidentiality, topic and focus.

We are aware that the category “pitch accent” is a matter of debate (Gomez-Imbert 2001, Hyman to appear) but we take the view that it could be maintained since it may describe an intermediary stage in the historic derivation between tone and stress systems. Since very little is known about tonogenesis or tone loss in Amazonia, if we consider that all languages in which a pitch value attaches to every syllable in a word are tonal languages, we may miss the chance to differentiate between fully tonal languages and pitch accent languages, in which tone has a secondary role. As pitch accent takes into consideration one prominent syllable per word, it may be viewed as a subtype of stress phenomena, resulting from the loss of tone. Alternatively, pitch accent could have its origins in stress systems and lead, historically to tone systems. This differentiation may be crucial to argue for a history of tone loss in a given linguistic family, or for the emergence of tone (tonogenesis). Language families such as Tupian and Tukanoan, comprised of tone, stress and pitch accent languages, are examples of the historical change in the use of pitch that we would like to know more about. Most of the descriptions of pitch phenomena in these languages are limited to the phonological word level. This call for papers encourages researchers to show what happens with such systems beyond the phonological word level, that is, whether there are synchronic or diachronic processes of tone or stress loss in complex phonological units such as phonological phrases or intonation phrases. If those phenomena could be put in a broader comparative perspective, we would start to tackle the question of how the tonal systems of Amazonia emerged or ceased to be.

Studies of phonological processes other than stress, tone and nasality taking place beyond the word level are also welcome because they may help us understand what the relevant prosodic levels beyond the phonological word are in Amazonian languages and how they relate with syntactic constituents of different types (Selkirk 1984, Nespor & Vogel 1986).

Instructions for the submission of abstracts

Abstracts (excl. references):
between 200 and 400 words
Formatting (Word and PDF):
Times New Roman 12, single space
Portuguese or Spanish or English
Deadline for submission:
01 December 2013
Notification of acceptance:
15 December 2013

The abstract should be submitted as an anonymous email attachment to:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In the accompanying email, the title of the presentation should be specified, along with the name and the institution of the author.


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