The Prosodic Hierarchy of Swedish

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2011
End date: 31/12/2011
Funding: 2720000 SEK


This project investigates the inventory of higher prosodic categories in Swedish by relating them to syntax and information structure. Influential work on intonation has been carried out mostly on the other Germanic languages. The North Gmc languages, however, offer excellent opportunities for the study of intonation and its interfaces, in view of two properties, that are absent (or undiscovered) in the other Gmc languages: 1) there are two, categorically distinct tonal prominence levels, 2) there is a lexical tonal distinction allowing for a binary contrast at each prominence level, a clear methodological advantage. We study e.g. the Accent phrase (AP), which figures in most paradigms (under different definitions) and which connects the lower and higher parts of the prosodic hierarchy. The question here is if it can be reduced to either the prosodic word or the phonological phrase. We look also at the status of the HL-accent, traditionally considered a straight instantiation of the lexical distinction. There are indications that the HL-accent might carry information-structural properties (e.g. Second Occurrence Focus). And there are phonology-internal reasons to assume that it is partly post-lexically (hence intonationally) assigned anyway, given privatitivy of the word accent distinction. Methods used are phonological analysis and phonetic investigation. Results are expected to deepen the general phonological discussion as well as increase the understanding of Swedish.

Last updated on 2017-31-03 at 12:58