Phonetic tone signals phonological quantity and word structure

Martti Vainio*, Juhani Järvikivi, Daniel Aalto, Antti Suni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Many languages exploit suprasegmental devices in signaling word meaning. Tone languages exploit fundamental frequency whereas quantity languages rely on segmental durations to distinguish otherwise similar words. Traditionally, duration and tone have been taken as mutually exclusive. However, some evidence suggests that, in addition to durational cues, phonological quantity is associated with and co-signaled by changes in fundamental frequency in quantity languages such as Finnish, Estonian, and Serbo-Croat. The results from the present experiment show that the structure of disyllabic word stems in Finnish are indeed signaled tonally and that the phonological length of the stressed syllable is further tonally distinguished within the disyllabic sequence. The results further indicate that the observed association of tone and duration in perception is systematically exploited in speech production in Finnish.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1313-1321
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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