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Auteur: Ulrike DOMAHS

Co-Auteur(s): Johannes KNAUS (Marburg), Jana MOLCZANOW (Warsaw), Heba EL SHANAWANY (Marburg), Richard WIESE (Marburg)

Crosslinguistic ERP studies on prosodic structure and representation of word stress

Abstract/Résumé: This contribution presents neurolinguistic data on stress perception in German, Cairene Arabic, Russian, and Turkish. The main objective is to investigate how different formal properties of word stress systems are reflected in the mental representation of words and in the processing of stress information. Previous studies showed that for instance the predictability of stress positions in the native language seems to be the most important factor for a speaker’s capacity to represent stress information (Peperkamp, Vendelin, & Dupoux, 2010). In addition to the factor predictability of stress, we propose that it is also the foot structure of words that licenses specific stress positions and therefore plays a role in the processing of stress. In order to test effects of predictability and structure on the processing of stress manipulations, we tested languages with either predictable stress, e.g., Turkish (Kabak & Vogel, 2001), variable and not necessarily predictable stress, e.g., German (Wiese, 1996) and Russian (Halle, 1973), or predictable stress relying on foot structure, e.g., Cairene Arabic (Watson, 2002). This selection of languages allows us to investigate whether the representation and processing of stress depend mainly on the presence or absence of lexical stress specifications or also on the metrical structure of words. In a series of experiments utilizing event-related potentials (ERPs), native speakers of Turkish, German, Russian and Cairene Arabic were presented with polysyllabic words embedded in a carrier sentence of their native language with either correct or incorrect (=shifted) word stress. Participants were instructed to judge the correctness of the perceived stress items. The ERP patterns found reflect sensitivity or insensitivity to stress manipulations in correlation with the predictability of stress and/or effects of prosodic structure on the acceptance of stress shifts. References: Halle, M. (1973). The accentuation of Russian words. Language 49, 312-348. Kabak, B., Vogel, I. (2001). The phonological word and stress assignment in Turkish. Phonology, 18, 315-360. Peperkamp, S., Vendelin, I., Dupoux, E. (2010). Perception of predictable stress: A crosslinguistic investigation. J. Phonetics 38, 422-430. Watson, J. C. E. (2002). The phonology and morphology of Arabic. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wiese, R. (1996). The phonology of German. Oxford: Oxford University Press.