Prosody plays an important role in marking focus in many languages. The goal of the current study was to examine the prosodic realization of focus in Paraguayan Guaraní, a Tupí-Guaraní language. A production experiment was conducted with native Guaraní speakers in Paraguay to explore the prosodic realization of utterances consisting of a proper name subject and an intransitive verb in three conditions: subject old information/verb contrastively focused, subject contrastively focused/verb old information and subject old information/verb new focus. Each target utterance followed a question and each question/answer pair was part of a longer discourse including filler utterances that provided relevant background information. The results revealed that foci are prosodically marked in Guaraní by three factors: intonation contour shape, phonetic implementation of the intonation contour, and the duration of the stressed syllable of the focused element. In addition, both the proper name subject and the intransitive verb were pitch-accented in most of the utterances, suggesting that prosodic prominence in Guaraní is realized through pitch accent alignment and stressed syllable duration rather than the location of the nuclear pitch accent.
Proceedings of the 28th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Mary Byram Washburn, Katherine McKinney-Bock, Erika Varis, Ann Sawyer, and Barbara Tomaszewicz
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