On the Phonetics and Phonology of Focus marking in Boro

Shakuntala Mahanta, Kalyan Das, Amalesh Gope


It is discussed widely in the literature on tone and intonation that both these phenomenon make use of changes in the f0. It is often assumed that intonation in tone languages is only slightly more limited than it is in non-tonal ones (Yip 2002). This paper addresses the question of tone assignment in Boro and investigates how it operates as a function of focus. This paper studies both the phonetics and phonology of intonation in Boro and delineates the way in-situ and morphological focus markers influence sentence prosody. The results show that in-situ focus does not result in any change of the f0 value of the target word. The only consistent acoustic correlate for focus marking is found to be post focus compression. The morphological focus marker leads to discrete downstepping of the following High tone and also emerges with an H* by deleting the neighboring H tones. One of the significant results of this experiment is that while H tones were realized at a higher f0 while co-occurring with the H* of the MF marker, L tones did not lead to any changes unless the stem were disyllabic, showing that there are phonological factors constraining sentential prosody.


Tone; Intonation; Focus

Full Text:



Beckman, Mary E. and Janet B. Pierrehumbert. 1986. Intonational structure in Japanese and English. Phonology 3(01):255-309.

Bhattacharya, Pramod Chandra. 1977. A Descriptive Analysis of the Bodo Language. Department of Publication: Guwahati University.

Burling, Robbins.1959. Proto-Bodo. Language 35(3):433-453.

Chen, Szu-wei, Bei Wang, and Yi Xu. 2009. Closely related languages, different ways of realizing focus. In Proceedings of Interspeech 2009: 1007-1010.

Cooper, William E., Stephen J. Eady, and Pamela R. Muller. 1985. Acoustical aspects of contrastive stress in question-answer contexts. The Journal of Acoustical Society of America 77:2142-2156.

Das, Kalyan and Shakuntala Mahanta. 2016a (forthcoming). Focus marking and pitch register modification in Boro. Speech Prosody 2016.

Das, Kalyan and ShakuntalaMahanta. 2016b (forthcoming). Tonal Alignment and Prosodic Word domain in Boro. The 5the International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages. ISCA.

Das, Kalyan and ShakuntalaMahanta. (forthcoming). Alignment and Interaction between Lexical and Intonational Tones in Boro.

Gussenhoven, Carlos and Peter Van der Vliet. 1999. The phonology of tone and intonation in the Dutch dialect of Venlo. Journal of Linguistics 35(1):99-135.

Gussenhoven, Carlos. 2004. The Phonology of Tone and Intonation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hayes, Bruce and Aditi Lahiri. 1991. Bengali intonational phonology. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 9(1):47-96.

Hyman, Larry M. 1999.The interaction between focus and tone in Bantu. In Georges Rebuschi and Laurie Tuller, eds., The Grammar of Focus, pages 151-177. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Inkelas, Sharon and William Leben. 1990. Where phonology and phonetics intersect: the case of Hausa intonation. In John Kingston, Mary E. Beckman eds., Papers in Laboratory Phonology I: Between the Grammar and the Physics of Speech, pages 17-34. Cambridge University Press.

Joseph, Umbavu Varghese and Robbins Burling. 2006. The Comparative Phonology of the Bodo-Garo Languages. Mysore: Central Institute of Languages.

Jun, Sun-Ah. 1993. The Phonetics and Phonology of Korean Prosody. Ph.D.thesis, The Ohio State University

Jun, Suh-Ah. 1996. The Phonetics and Phonology of Korean Prosody: Intonational Phonology and Prosodic Structure.Taylor& Francis.

Karlsson, Anastasia M., Jan-Olof Svantesson, and David House. 2012. Adaptation of focus to lexical tone and phrasing in Kammu. In Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages.http://www.tal2012.org/papers/O3-01.pdf

Kügler, Frank and Susanne Genzel.2012. On the prosodic expression of pragmatic prominence–The case of pitch register lowering in Akan. Language and Speech 55(3):331-359.

Ladd, Robert D. 2008. Intonational Phonology. Cambridge University Press.

Myers, Scott. 1996. Boundary tones and the phonetic implementation of tone in Chichewa. Studies in African Linguistics25:29-60.

Pell, Mark D. 2001. Influence of emotion and focus on prosody in matched statements and questions. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America109:1668-1680.

Rialland, Annie and Stéphane Robert. 2001. The intonational system of Wolof. Linguistics 39:893-939.

Sarmah, Priyankoo. 2004. Some Aspects of the Tonal Phonology of Bodo. M.Phil. dissertation, CIEFL, Hyderabad.

Truckenbrodt, Hubert. 1995. Phonological Phrases: Their Relation to Syntax, Focus, and Prominence. Ph.D. thesis, MIT.

Xu, Yi. 1999. Effects of tone and focus on the formation and alignment of f0 contours. Journal of Phonetics, 27(1):55-105.

Xu, Yi. 2005. Speech melody as articulatorily implemented communicative functions. Speech Communication 46(3):220-251.

Xu, Yi, Ching X. Xu, and Xuejing Sun. 2004. On the temporal domain of focus. Speech Prosody 2004.

Xu, Yi, and Ching X. Xu. 2005. Phonetic realization of focus in English declarative intonation. Journal of Phonetics 33(2):159-197.

Xu, Yi. 2011. Post-focus compression: Cross-linguistic distribution and historical origin. In Proceedings of the 17th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, pages 152-155. Hong Kong.

Xu, Yi. 2013. ProsodyPro- A Tool for Large-scale Systematic Prosody Analysis. In Proceedings of Tools and Resources for the Analysis of Speech Prosody (TRASP 2013), Aix-en-Provence, France.7-10.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/amp.v3i0.3668

Copyright (c) 2016 Shakuntala Mahanta, Kalyan Das, Amalesh Gope

License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/