Prosodic Marking of Information Status in German

Christine Tanja Röhr, Stefan Baumann, IfL Phonetik, University of Cologne

In a production experiment on read German, we investigate the prosodic marking of discourse referents reflecting different types of information status. Acoustic and phonological analyses reveal an increase in the number of pitch accents as well as higher and later accentual peaks from textually given through textually accessible and inferentially accessible to new referents. Due to the increasing number of produced accents, segmental durations also increase from given to new information. Furthermore, specific accent types lead to different segmental durations. The differences in the prosodic marking of the two types of accessible information suggest a difference in cognitive activation between them, supporting the idea of an activation continuum of discourse referents.