An analysis of prosodic prominence cues to information structure in Egyptian Arabic

Dina El Zarka, Anneliese Kelterer, Barbara Schuppler

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


This study presents the first acoustic examination of prominence relations in entire contours associated with different information structures in Egyptian Arabic. Previous work has shown that topics and foci are typically associated with different pitch events, whereas it is still a matter of debate whether and how Egyptian Arabic uses prominence relations to mark narrow focus. The analysis of data from 17 native speakers showed that narrow focus was marked by on-focus pitch expansion as well as post-focus compression. Post-focus compression was realized as a large downstep after focus, compressed pitch range, lower intensity and shorter duration. The results also showed further register lowering after a contrastive focus, but no further pitch boost of the focused word. By contrast, a contrastive topic showed higher scaling of the topic as well as an expanded pitch range of the overall contour. The findings of this study stress the significance of whole contours to convey intonational meanings, revealing gradient prominence cues to focus across the utterance, specifically post-focus register lowering to enhance the prominence of a contrastive focus.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of Interspeech 2020
Place of PublicationShanghai
Pages 1883-1887
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Event21st Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association: INTERSPEECH 2020 - Shanghai, Virtual, China
Duration: 25 Oct 202029 Oct 2020


Conference21st Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association
Abbreviated titleInterspeech 2020
CityShanghai, Virtual


  • Acoustic cues
  • Information structure
  • Narrow focus
  • Post-focus compression
  • Prosodic prominence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Signal Processing
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Modelling and Simulation


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