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Department of Linguistics

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WPP, No.111: A preliminary model of Singaporean English intonational phonology


Recent research has sought to identify the systematic features that make Singa-porean English (SgE) distinct from other varieties of English. Although the intonation of SgE has been described previously (Deterding 1994; Lim 2004; Ng 2011), no phono-logical model has yet been proposed. This paper proposes a model of SgE intonational phonology within the Autosegmental-Metrical phonology framework (eg. Pierrehum-bert 1980). Three native speakers were recorded reading declarative and question sentences of varying length and stress pattern. Preliminary results suggest that SgE has three prosodic units above the word: the Accentual Phrase (AP), Intermediate Phrase (ip) and Intonational Phrase (IP). An AP is slightly larger than a word and is characterized by a general LH (rising) contour. The L can be attributable to either an L* tone on a lexically-stressed syllable or an L initial boundary tone if the stressed syllable occurs late in the AP. The AP-_nal syllable always has a phonologically high boundary tone (Ha). Intermediate phrases are marked by L- and H- tones and IPs are marked by L% and H% tones. Finally, preliminary data suggests that SgE speakers use an expanded pitch range and occasionally lengthening to mark contrastive focus.

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