Phrase Accent in Persian Intonational Phonology

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Imam Khomeini International University


This article addresses the phonetic and phonological representation of H- phrase accent in the tonal structure of Persian pre-nuclear accents. In an experimental study, three groups of pre-nuclear accentual phrases, namely, phrases with antepenultimate, penultimate and final stress pattern, were selected for tonal examination. Materials were designed so as to yield under-pressure and pressure free prosodic environments. The sentences were then read by four speakers of standard Persian. Results revealed some  evidence for the presence of  phrase accent as a part of the tonal structure of all groups, except for oxytones in which there is not sufficient segmental space for the realization of the H- phrase tone. Thus, we may transcribe pre-nuclear accents in Persia as a sequence of an L+H* pitch accent and a H- phrase accent: L+H*H, whereby L+H* is associated with the stressed syllable and the H- is spread as a plateau from the accented syllable to the end of the accentual phrase. The observations further revealed that the H- plateau is realized in different ways depending on the stress pattern of the accentual phrase. The H- plateau can best be explained using the tone copy analysis which assumes that a plateau results from copying a phrase accent from the boundary to units which do not bear tones such as final syllables.


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  • Receive Date: 16 July 2014
  • Revise Date: 07 August 2014
  • Accept Date: 15 November 2014
  • First Publish Date: 20 February 2015