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Journal Article

Intonational structure as a word-boundary cue in Tokyo Japanese


Warner,  Natasha
University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ;
MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Language Comprehension Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Warner, N., Otake, T., & Arai, A. (2010). Intonational structure as a word-boundary cue in Tokyo Japanese. Language and Speech, 53, 107-131. doi:10.1177/0023830909351235.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-65DF-4
While listeners are recognizing words from the connected speech stream, they are also parsing information from the intonational contour. This contour may contain cues to word boundaries, particularly if a language has boundary tones that occur at a large proportion of word onsets. We investigate how useful the pitch rise at the beginning of an accentual phrase (APR) would be as a potential word-boundary cue for Japanese listeners. A corpus study shows that it should allow listeners to locate approximately 40–60% of word onsets, while causing less than 1% false positives. We then present a word-spotting study which shows that Japanese listeners can, indeed, use accentual phrase boundary cues during segmentation. This work shows that the prosodic patterns that have been found in the production of Japanese also impact listeners’ processing.