The Intonational Realization of Contrastive Focus in Chickasaw

  • Matthew Gordon
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 82)

While the realization of focus in languages which express focus either syntactically or prosodically or through a combination of both prosody and syntax has been studied relatively extensively, e.g. English (Beckman and Pierrehumbert 1986), Korean (Cho 1990, Jun 1993), Chichewa (Kanerva 1990), Bengali (Hayes and Lahiri 1991, Lahiri and Fitzpatrick-Cole 1999), Shanghai Chinese (Selkirk and Shen 1990), Hungarian (Horvath 1986, Kiss 1998), Hausa (Inkelas and Leben 1990), there is very little work on languages which mark focus morphologically through affixes or particles attached to or adjacent to focused elements. Of particular interest is the question of whether languages with morphological marking of focus also utilize prosodic cues to signal focus, much as languages with special word orders associated with focus may redundantly use prosody to cue focus. In their study of Wolof, a language which marks focus morphologically, Rialland and Robert (2001) claim that Wolof does not use intonation to signal focus redundantly. Beyond this study of Wolof, however, there is little phonetic literature dealing with the prosodic manifestation of focus in languages with morphological expression of focus. It is thus unclear to what extent languages that mark focus morphologically tend to also employ prosodie cues to focus.

This study attempts to broaden our understanding of the phonetics of focus by examining prosodic cues to focus in Chickasaw, a language like Wolof with morphological marking of focus. A number of potential pitch and duration cues to contrastive focus are examined to determine whether Chickasaw redundantly use both prosody and morphology to mark focus.


Narrow Focus Syntactic Category Pause Duration Focus Condition Focus Element 
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© Springer Science + Business B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Gordon

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