Non-focal prominence

Shinichiro Ishihara, Yoshihisa Kitagawa, Satoshi Nambu, Hajime Ono

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This paper reports results of two experiments (phonetic production experiment and self-paced perception experiment) on what we call nuclear prominence in Japanese. The goal of this study is two-fold. First, through a production experiment (Experiment 1), we attempt to provide quantitative confirmation of the presence of nuclear prominence in Japanese, which has only been sporadically and informally observed in the literature. Second, we examine in a perception experiment (Experiment 2) whether nuclear prominence has any effect on sentence comprehension. The results of Experiment 1 confirm that the phrase immediately preceding the verb exhibits phonetic prominence. It will also be shown that this prominence is independent of phonetic effects of focus, contrary to what has often been claimed in the literature. The results of Experiment 2 then reveal a hitherto unnoticed aspect of nuclear prominence, that is, it also yields an interpretive effect which presumably is independent of focus. The combined results of our two experiments, in other words, point toward the view that the nature of nuclear prominence is not solely phonetico-phonological but is semantico-pragmatic at least in part.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 13th Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics (WAFL13)
EditorsCéleste Guillemot, Tomoyuki Yoshida, Seunghun Lee
Place of PublicationCambridge, MA
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventThe 13th Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics - International Christian University, Mitaka, Japan
Duration: 2017 May 252017 May 28

Publication series

NameMIT Working Papers in Linguistics


WorkshopThe 13th Workshop on Altaic Formal Linguistics
Abbreviated titleWAFL 13
Internet address

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • nuclear prominence
  • Japanese
  • focus


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