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Final Lowering in Kipare*

  • Rebecca Herman (a1)

In many languages, fundamental frequency shows a marked decrease utterance-finally or phrase-finally. Ladefoged (1982) generalises that ‘in nearly all languages the completion of a grammatical unit such as a normal sentence is signaled by a falling pitch’. Bolinger (1978) also writes that ‘the most widely diffused intonational phenomenon seems to be the tendency to “go down at the end”’. These sorts of abrupt decreases which affect only the end of the utterance (known as FINAL LOWERING) are distinct from gradual decreases in fundamental frequency over the course of the entire utterance (known as DECLINATION). Bolinger (1978) notes the same distinction, characterising it as the difference between ‘a rapid downward motion at the very end, usually if not always associated with a terminal accent’ and ‘downward drift from a high beginning’. Final lowering as distinct from declination is documented in Japanese by Poser (1984) and by Pierrehumbert & Beckman (1988); in English by Liberman & Pierrehumbert (1984); in Dutch by Gussenhoven & Rietveld (1988); in Danish by Thorsen (1985); in Yoruba by Connell & Ladd (1990) and by Laniran (1992); and in Kikuyu by Clements & Ford (1981) (although not all authors use the exact terminology presented here).

Analyses of final lowering range from attributing final lowering to changes in tonal categories (discussed below in §4) to attributing final lowering to compression of the pitch range in the last section of the sentence (discussed below in §5.1). Tone languages provide an interesting testing ground for analyses of final lowering. Careful experimental study, controlling for the position of a tone from the beginning and from the end of a sentence, is one way to begin to sort out the effects of various factors such as declination and final lowering on fundamental frequency.

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