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The Accentual Phrase in the Korean prosodic hierarchy

  • Sun-Ah Jun (a1)
    • Published online: 18 November 2002

A universal characteristic of speech is that utterances are generally broken down phonologically into smaller phrases which are marked by suprasegmental features such as intonational events and/or final lengthening. Moreover, phrases can be further divided into smaller-sized constituents. These constituents of varying size, or ‘prosodic units’, are typically characterised as performing the dual function of marking a unit of information and forming the domain of application of phonological rules. However, there is less agreement about how prosodic units are defined in generating an utterance. There are at least two different approaches (for a general review, see Shattuck-Hufnagel & Turk 1996). One approach posits that prosodic constituents are hierarchically organised and that prosodic constituents larger than a word are derived indirectly from the syntactic structure by referring to the edge of a maximal projection (Selkirk 1986), to the head–complement relation (Nespor & Vogel 1986) or to the c-command relation (Hayes 1989). This position, which I call the SYNTACTIC APPROACH, has been called the Prosodic Hierarchy theory, Prosodic Phonology or the Indirect Syntactic Approach (Selkirk 1984, 1986, Nespor & Vogel 1986, Hayes 1989).

The other position, which I call the INTONATIONAL APPROACH, also assumes a hierarchical prosodic structure, but defines the prosodic units larger than a word based on the surface phonetic form of an utterance by looking at suprasegmental features such as intonation and final lengthening (e.g. Beckman & Pierrehumbert 1986, Pierrehumbert & Beckman 1988, Jun 1993, Beckman 1996). Both approaches assume a prosodic hierarchy in which prosodic units are hierarchically organised and obey the Strict Layer Hypothesis (Selkirk 1984, 1986, Nespor & Vogel 1986; a prosodic unit of a given level of the hierarchy is composed of one or more units of the immediately lower prosodic unit, and is exhaustively contained in the superordinate unit of which it is a part). The prosodic units which are higher than a word, and which are commonly assumed by proponents of the syntactic approach, are the Phonological Phrase and the Intonation Phrase, while those assumed by the intonational approach are the Accentual Phrase, the Intermediate Phrase and the Intonation Phrase. The prosodic units below the Phonological Phrase, i.e. the Syllable, Foot and Prosodic Word, do not differ much in the two approaches, since these units have more fixed roles vis-à-vis syntax or intonation.

The intonational unit corresponding to the Phonological Phrase is the Intermediate Phrase in English (Beckman & Pierrehumbert 1986) or the Accentual Phrase in Korean (Jun 1993), in that these are the units immediately higher than a Word. The Phonological Phrase is defined based on the syntactic structure, but the intonational units are defined by intonational markers. The Intermediate Phrase in English is the domain of downstep, and is delimited by a phrase accent, H- or L-; the Accentual Phrase in standard (Seoul) Korean is demarcated by a phrase-final High tone. The next higher level, the Intonation Phrase, is much more similar in the two approaches. Even though the proponents of the syntactic approach define this level in terms of syntax (e.g. a sister node of a root sentence), they claim that this level is the domain of the intonational contour and is sensitive to semantic factors (Selkirk 1980, 1984, 1986, Nespor & Vogel 1986). In this paper, we will focus on the prosodic level corresponding to the Phonological Phrase.

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§§2 and 3.1 of this paper are taken from Jun (1993) with some revision. I thank Mary Beckman, Bruce Hayes, Pat Keating, Dan Silverman and Victoria Anderson for their valuable comments on an earlier version of this article. I thank the associate editor, Bob Ladd, and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful and constructive comments and criticisms. I also thank Seoul and Chonnam consultants who participated in the experiments.
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  • ISSN: 0952-6757
  • EISSN: 1469-8188
  • URL: /core/journals/phonology
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