Alignment perception of high intonational plateaux in Italian and German

Mariapaola D’Imperio, Barbara Gili Fivela, and Oliver Niebuhr, Université Aix-Marseille I et Laboratoire Parole et Langage, CNRS

This paper addresses the issue of tonal perception as it relates to special configurations, i.e. fundamental frequency (F0) plateaux. We here review a series of perceptual experiments in two different languages, Italian (Naples and Pisa variety) and German. A subset of the auditory stimuli employed in these studies contained a high F0 plateau, which had to be either identified for a specific tonal category or matched to a previous context. The results show a tendency, for all languages, to match a pitch accent category having a late H peak target to plateau stimuli, which might be due to a universal auditory integration mechanism. This has consequences for intonation models, since the relationship between dynamic characteristics of accentual contours and tonal target location is complex and not always immediately identifiable with turning points.