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      West African languages enrich the frequency code: Multi-functional pitch and multi-dimensional prosody in Ikaan polar questions

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          Abstract

          Cross-linguistically, statements tend to be pronounced with low or falling pitch and questions with high or rising pitch, a form–meaning pairing which has been attributed to the frequency code ( Ohala, 1984). In many West African languages, however, questions are marked with a ‘lax’ prosody comprising falling intonation, low tones, lengthening, breathy termination, and open vowels ( Rialland, 2007). This paper presents prosody findings from Ikaan (Niger-Congo; ISO 639-3: kcf) and proposes a re-analysis of the West African lax question prosody to integrate it with the frequency code model. The paper shows that the pragmatic functions of statement and polar question are expressed prosodically in Ikaan. Audio recordings of statements and morphosyntactically identical polar questions by six speakers were annotated segmentally, tonally, and for the presence of prosodic question markers. Speakers mark questions by using higher onset pitch, wider drops to final low tones, final breathy voice and voicelessness, final vowel lengthening, vowel insertion, and increased intensity. Breathiness may further contrast with creaky voice and glottal stops in statements. Phonation mode, and the accompanying vowel lengthening and insertion, are argued to indicate friendliness and appeals for collaboration, linking phonation mode to similar functions of higher pitch in the frequency code.

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          Most cited references 28

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          CREAKY VOICE: A NEW FEMININE VOICE QUALITY FOR YOUNG URBAN-ORIENTED UPWARDLY MOBILE AMERICAN WOMEN?

           I. Yuasa (2010)
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            Gender and the social meaning of non-modal phonation types

            Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (2013), pp. 427-448
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              Objective voice analysis of Iranian speakers with normal voices

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                1868-6354
                Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology
                Ubiquity Press
                1868-6354
                07 June 2017
                : 8
                : 1
                Affiliations
                SOAS University of London, London, UK
                Article
                10.5334/labphon.94
                Copyright: © 2017 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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