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Tone and intonation in the dialect of Hasselt

Jörg Peters1

1Radboud University, Nijmegen, University of Oldenburg

Institut für Germanistik, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Ammerländer Heerstraße 114–118, 26111 Oldenburg, Germany. E-mail: .

Citation Information: Linguistics. Volume 46, Issue 5, Pages 983–1018, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: 10.1515/LING.2008.032, September 2008

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Published Online:


The West-Limburgian dialect of Hasselt has a word accent distinction comparable to the distinction between accent 1 and accent 2 in Swedish and Norwegian. To understand how Hasselt speakers interpret the accentual contrast, a reading task was carried out in which words differing by accent class only were embedded in different prosodic contexts. The results suggest that Hasselt speakers, like speakers of the more eastern dialects of Venlo, Roermond, and Cologne, mark accent 2 by lexical tone, while accent 1 remains lexically toneless. Hasselt speakers differ, however, both in the realization and the distribution of the accentual contrast. These differences are attributed to variation in tonal association. While the eastern speakers associate tones to sonorant moras, Hasselt speakers associate tones to syllables.

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