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The prosody of focus in the Spanish of Quechua-Spanish bilinguals: A case study on noun phrases

Van Rijswijk, R., & Muntendam, A. (2014). The prosody of focus in the Spanish of Quechua-Spanish bilinguals: A case study on noun phrases. International Journal of Bilingualism, 18(6), 614-632. doi:10.1177/1367006912456103.
This study examines the prosody of focus in the Spanish of 16 Quechua-Spanish bilinguals near Cusco, Peru. Data come from a dialogue game that involved noun phrases consisting of a noun and an adjective. The questions in the game elicited broad focus, contrastive focus on the noun (non-final position) and contrastive focus on the adjective (final position). The phonetic analysis in Praat included peak alignment, peak height, local range and duration of the stressed syllable and word. The study revealed that Cusco Spanish differs from other Spanish varieties. In other Spanish varieties, contrastive focus is marked by early peak alignment, whereas broad focus involves a late peak on the non-final word. Furthermore, in other Spanish varieties contrastive focus is indicated by a higher F0 maximum, a wider local range, post-focal pitch reduction and a longer duration of the stressed syllable/word. For Cusco Spanish no phonological contrast between early and late peak alignment was found. However, peak alignment on the adjective in contrastive focus was significantly earlier than in the two other contexts. For women, similar results were found for the noun in contrastive focus. An additional prominence-lending feature marking contrastive focus concerned duration of the final word. Furthermore, the results revealed a higher F0 maximum for broad focus than for contrastive focus. The findings suggest a prosodic change, which is possibly due to contact with Quechua. The study contributes to research on information structure, prosody and contact-induced language change.
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