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Focus perception in Japanese: Effects of focus location and accent condition

Lee, A; Chiu, F; Xu, Y; (2016) Focus perception in Japanese: Effects of focus location and accent condition. Presented at: 172nd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, Honolulu, Hawaii. Green open access

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Abstract

This study explores the contexts in which native Japanese listeners have difficulty identifying prosodic focus. Theories of intonational phonology, syntax, and phonetics make different predictions as to which focus location would be the most challenging to the native listener. Lexical pitch accent further complicates this picture. In a sentence with mixed pitch accent conditions (e.g. Unaccented-Accented-Unaccented), the lexical accent would naturally stand out as more prominent than the unaccented words in terms of modifications to the F0 contour, thus potentially resembling focus. A focus identification task was conducted with 16 native listeners from the Greater Tokyo area. Natural and synthetic stimuli were played to the listeners who then chose which word of the sentence was under focus. Neutral (or broad) focus was also an option. Stimuli contrasted in accent condition and focus location. Results showed a highly complex interplay between these two factors. For example, accented narrow foci were always more correctly identified (51%) than unaccented ones (28%), whereas the identification rate for final focus was the lowest (31%) among all focus locations. These results are discussed with reference to the research literature on focus production and formal representation of intonation.

Type: Conference item (Presentation)
Title: Focus perception in Japanese: Effects of focus location and accent condition
Event: 172nd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Dates: 28th November - 2nd December 2016
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1121/2.0000441
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1121/2.0000441
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10057627
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