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The relationship between prosodic structure and pitch accent distribution: evidence from Egyptian Arabic

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JournalThe Linguistic Review
DatePublished - 17 Aug 2007
Issue number2-3
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)291-316
Original languageEnglish


This article explores the relationship between prosodic structure and pitch accent distribution in the context of empirical evidence from spoken Egyptian Arabic (EA), a language in which every content word routinely bears a pitch accent. In languages with more sparse pitch accent distribution, this has been explained in terms of obligatory accentuation of the heads of prosodic constituents at the phonological phrase level. Evidence from a corpus of EA narrative speech indicates that although the distribution of pitch accents in EA cannot be attributed to the distribution of heads of phonological phrases, it can be analyzed in terms of the distribution of another prosodic constituent, the Prosodic Word. This supports the general claim that there is a link between pitch accent distribution and the distribution of prosodic constituents, but suggests there is cross-linguistic variation in which constituent level of the Prosodic Hierarchy functions as the domain of pitch accent distribution.

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