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The Linguistic Review

Editor-in-Chief: van der Hulst, Harry

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Volume 26, Issue 2-3


The prosodic marking of topical referents in the German “Vorfeld” by children and adults

Laura E. de Ruiter
Published Online: 2009-08-21 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlir.2009.012


This article reports on the analysis of prosodic marking of topical referents in the German prefield by 5- and 7-year-old children and adults. Natural speech data was obtained from a picture-elicited narration task. The data was analyzed both phonologically and phonetically. In line with previous findings, adult speakers realized topical referents predominantly with the accents L+H* and L*+H, but H* accents and unaccented items were also observed.

Children used the same accent types as adults, but the accent types were distributed differently. Also, children aligned pitch minima earlier than adults and produced accents with a decreased speed of pitch change. Possible reasons for these findings are discussed.

Contrast – defined in terms of a change of subjecthood – did not affect the choice of pitch accent type and did not influence phonetic realization, underlining the fact that accentuation is often a matter of individual speaker choice.

About the article

Published Online: 2009-08-21

Published in Print: 2009-08-01

Citation Information: The Linguistic Review, Volume 26, Issue 2-3, Pages 329–354, ISSN (Online) 1613-3676, ISSN (Print) 0167-6318, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/tlir.2009.012.

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