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The relative perceptual weight of two Swedish prosodic contrasts
Göteborgs universitet.
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, Swedish as Second Language.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7966-320X
2015 (English)In: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Monolingual and Bilingual Speech 2015 / [ed] Elena Babatsouli, David Ingram, Chania 73100, Greece: Institute of Monolingual and Bilingual Speech , 2015, 1-7 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Abstract. In addition to 9 vowel and 18 consonant phonemes, Swedish has three prosodic phonemic contrasts: word stress, quantity and tonal word accent. There are also examples of distinctive phrase or sentence stress, where a verb can be followed by either an unstressed preposition or a stressed particle. This study focuses on word level and more specifically on word stress and tonal word accent in disyllabic words. When making curriculums for second language learners, teachers are helped by knowing which phonetic or phonological features are more or less crucial for the intelligibility of speech and there are some structural and anecdotal evidence that word stress should play a more important role for intelligibility of Swedish, than the tonal word accent. The Swedish word stress is about prominence contrasts between syllables, mainly signaled by syllable duration, while the tonal word accent is signaled mainly by pitch contour. The word stress contrast, as in armen [´arːmən] ‘the arm’ - armén [ar´meːn] ‘the army’, the first word trochaic and the second iambic, is present in all regional varieties of Swedish, and realized with roughly the same acoustic cues, while the tonal word accent, as in anden [´anːdən] ‘the duck’ - anden [`anːdən] ‘the spirit’ is absent in some dialects (as well as in singing), and also signaled with a variety of tonal patterns depending on region. The present study aims at comparing the respective perceptual weight of the two mentioned contrasts. Two lexical decision tests were carried out where in total 34 native Swedish listeners should decide whether a stimulus was a real word or a non-word. Real words of all mentioned categories were mixed with nonsense words and words that were mispronounced with opposite stress pattern or opposite tonal word accent category. The results show that distorted word stress caused more non-word judgments and more loss, than distorted word accent. Our conclusion is that intelligibility of Swedish is more sensitive to distorted word stress pattern than to distorted tonal word accent pattern. This is in compliance with the structural arguments presented above, and also with our own intuition.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Chania 73100, Greece: Institute of Monolingual and Bilingual Speech , 2015. 1-7 p.
Keyword [en]
second language pronunciation, intelligibility, word stress, tonal word accent
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Education and Learning
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-20794ISBN: 978-618-82351-0-6OAI: diva2:895030
Available from: 2016-01-18 Created: 2016-01-18 Last updated: 2016-10-25Bibliographically approved

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