High peaks versus high plateaux in the identification of two pitch accents in Pisa Italian

Barbara Gili Fivela, Università del Salento
Mariapaola D’Imperio, Université Aix-Marseille I et Laboratoire Parole et Langage

The role of pitch pattern shape and perceptual target location is investigated here by means of an identification test involving two pitch accent categories in Pisa Italian. The perception test concerned the pitch accents used in contrastive and utterance-initial broad focus and was performed by asking subjects to identify two continua composed of peak and plateau stimuli whose alignment and scaling characteristics were manipulated. In line with previous findings, results show that alignment and scaling both play a role in accent identification and that pitch shape affects subject perception. In particular, plateau stimuli are perceived as late peak stimuli having the same fundamental frequency height or else they are perceived as early peak stimuli realized at a higher frequency.