15.3598, Diss: Phonetics/phonology: Dilley: 'The Phonetics...'

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LINGUIST List: Vol-15-3598. Thu Dec 30 2004. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 15.3598, Diss: Phonetics/phonology: Dilley: 'The Phonetics...'

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Date: 22-Dec-2004
From: Laura Dilley < dilley.28 at osu.edu >
Subject: The Phonetics and Phonology of Tonal Systems

-------------------------Message 1 ----------------------------------
Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2004 07:47:30
From: Laura Dilley < dilley.28 at osu.edu >
Subject: The Phonetics and Phonology of Tonal Systems

Institution: Ohio State University
Program: Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004

Author: Laura Christine Dilley

Dissertation Title: The Phonetics and Phonology of Tonal Systems

Dissertation URL:


Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Dissertation Director(s):
Michael Kenstowicz
Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel
Kenneth Stevens
Cheryl Zoll

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis examines the issue of descriptive adequacy in theories of the
phonology and phonetics of intonation and tone. It is argued that in order
to account for certain robust phonetic facts, such as the consistent presence
and timing of F0 peaks and valleys across languages (Ladd 1996), theories
of the phonology and phonetics of tone and intonation must crucially
specify the relative height relations of tones. For languages with lexically
unconstrained placement of tones within the pitch range, such as English,
an absence of restrictions on relative tone height is shown to lead to two
types of problems: overgeneration of phonetic contours from phonological
representations, and indeterminacy of phonological representations for
phonetic pitch contours. It is shown that previous theories of intonation,
including Pierrehumbert (1980), include insufficient constraints on relative
tone height and therefore inherit these difficulties. To address these issues,
it is proposed that relative height be represented in terms of structure
known as a tone interval, which is an abstraction of a frequency ratio (e.g., a
musical interval). A tone interval encodes the relative height and/or the size
of the interval between a tone and one of two types of construct: a referent
tone, or a referent pitch level. In this way the proposal builds on work in
auditory perception and cognition showing that musical melodies are
represented in terms of relative height relations between notes or between
a note and a referent pitch level, i.e., the musical key.

Six experiments tested the predictions of this theory for English.
Experiments 1 and 3 involved discrimination of pairs of stimuli in which the
timing of an F0 peak or valley had been varied along a continuum with
respect to segments, while Experiments 2 and 4 involved imitation of these
stimuli. Finally, Experiments 5 and 6 involved imitating stimuli in which
absolute F0 level had been varied along a continuum. Consistent with the
proposed tone interval theory, these results demonstrate the importance of
relative pitch level for phonological representations. In particular,
discrimination maxima and discreteness in production data were observed
for positions in stimulus series in which either (i) the timing of an F0 peak
or valley was varied across a vowel onset, or (ii) the F0 level of one syllable
switched from higher than another syllable to lower than that syllable. It is
shown that the theoretical proposals provide an account for the
experimental results, while eliminating problems of phonological
overgeneration and phonetic indeterminacy associated with previous

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