Northern Kurdish As A Stress-Accent Language

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Aveen M. Hasan

Abstract

Languages vary in terms of whether they are stress or non-stress accent languages. Concerning whether Northern Kurdish is a stress or non-stress accent language, there is no experimental investigation which has ever examined the phonetic correlates of word-level prominence. This study aims to establish the acoustic correlates of word-level prominence in Northern Kurdish. It is based on the production of pairs of segmentally parallel syllables occurring in stressed vs. unstressed positions. The materials are produced by 30 native speakers.  Measurements of F0, duration and intensity of the test syllables in each token were extracted. The hypothesis is that if Northern Kurdish is a stress-accent language, the values of all the variables will be higher in the stressed condition than in the unstressed condition, whereas if it is a non-stress-accent language, only F0 values are predicted to be higher in the stressed condition. The results indicate that Northern Kurdish is a stress-accent language in that it employs both tonal and non-tonal correlates, especially duration, cues to word-level prominence. Additionally, stress influences the durations of the segmental material of the stressed syllables, i.e. consonants and vowels.

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