top of page


What intonational phenomena are we investigating in SPRINT?

Final rises in English

​Final pitch rises  are found at the end of polar questions and are also used to signal the speaker’s intention to continue holding the floor.


Perhaps the best known use of rises is uptalk, rises at the end of statements where one would normally expect a fall. Such rises are expected to be meaningful, e.g. adding pragmatic nuance to a statement. It is unclear, however, whether differences between rises used for different purposes are gradient or categorial.


Pitch rises are investigated in SPRINT with data from Bristol, where uptalk is considered to be routine, and London and the South East (the Greater London area, or GLA), where uptalk is said to be an innovation.

High pitch accents in English

Despite extensive work on the high pitch accents of English, there is at present no consensus regarding their number, representation, and meaning. 


Disagreements may stem from the assumption that the same analysis fits several English dialects. This, however, raises the question of how new and contrastive information are distinguished in varieties like GLA English, said not to have the H* ~ LH* contrast, and varieties like Bristol, in which H* is said not to be used at all (because uptalk is used instead).

High accents in English are investigated with data from Bristol and London, and will be compared to similar accents in Greek.

Polar question tunes in Greek

In Athenian Greek polar questions have a distinctive tune, while in (some varieties) of Corfu Greek, polar questions use a tune very similar to that of statements.


Since polar questions are not grammatically marked in either variety, the Corfiot pattern raises the question of how statements are differentiated from questions, and how speakers of Corfiot Greek are understood by speakers of the Athenian Standard.

Question tunes are investigated with data from Corfu and Athens.

High pitch accents in Greek

According to GRToBI, Greek uses three pitch accents with declaratives: H* for new and LH* for contrastive information, and H*L for new information  the speaker believes should have been in the common ground.


This applies to Athenian but not Corfiot Greek, a situation that raises the same issues as GLA English regarding how intonation encodes information structure. These similarities provide opportunities both for cross-linguistic comparisons between English and Greek, and a better understanding of cross-dialectal communication between Athenian and Corfiot Greek.

bottom of page