Experimental work on prosodically-marked information structure in selected African languages (Afroasiatic and Niger-Congo)


Sabine Zerbian, University of Potsdam
Susanne Genzel, University of Potsdam
Frank K├╝gler, University of Potsdam

Data from lesser-studied languages help to delineate parameters of typological variation. The paper presents experimental work on prosodic marking of information structure in selected African languages. Interestingly, many of the languages lack marking of information structure by purely prosodic means, be it focus marking or deaccentuation of given constituents. Prosodic marking of information structure can thus not be considered a language universal, instead information structure is a linguistic function that only some languages use intonation for. The review gives also evidence how a field slowly moves to adapting experimental methods and methodological standards, and thus provides cross-linguistically comparable results.