The role of rhythm in intonational melody: A case study from Fataluku

Tyler Heston


This paper takes a fresh look at the theoretical relationship between linguistic rhythm and linguistic melody, arguing for a closer connection between metrical structure and intonational organization than is typically assumed. The focus of this paper is the theoretical treatment of word-medial intonational targets in languages without stress, since at first glance, such word-medial targets challenge the core assumption of the autosegmental-metrical theory of intonation that all intonational targets are aligned either with a stressed syllable or with the edge of a prosodic domain. I propose that this theoretical dilemma may be resolved by taking into account foot edges as possible alignment sites for edge tones. The claim that intonational tones may be aligned with foot edges is supported with new data from the Papuan language Fataluku. The implications of such an analysis for other stressless languages are also discussed. 


prosody; feet; metrical phonology; Papuan languages; East Timor; Timor Leste

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Copyright (c) 2016 Tyler Heston

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