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Makkan Arabic does not have post-focus compression: a production and perception study

Phonetica. 2022 Aug 3. doi: 10.1515/phon-2022-2021. Online ahead of print.


Post-focus compression (PFC), in which words following focus are compressed in F 0 and intensity, is recently found to be effective in encoding focus. Recent studies find that PFC is present in Egyptian, Hijazi and Lebanese Arabic, and hence they are classified as +PFC languages. However, there are languages from the same family language which differ mainly in terms of the presence and absence of PFC. The current study investigated the production and perception of prosodic focus marking in Makkan Arabic, an under-researched Arabic dialect. Systematic acoustic analyses and statistical tests show that (a) the on-focus word is realized by expanding the excursion size, increasing the F 0 and strengthening the intensity of its stressed syllable, (b) information and contrastive focus are not prosodically distinguishable, (c) Makkan Arabic lacks PFC, and (d) focus recognition is low compared to Hijazi Arabic (+PFC), Taiwanese and Taiwan Mandarin (other -PFC languages). The new findings, taken together with recent findings, suggest that (1) the prosodic encoding of focus is different across Arabic dialects productively and perceptually, and (2) the on-focus raising is not a sufficient factor in recognizing prosodic cues to focus. These results contribute to broadening our understanding of different prosodic focus markings cross-linguistically and cross-dialectally.

PMID:35918784 | DOI:10.1515/phon-2022-2021

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