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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 Newcastle, where uptalk is considered to be routine, and London and the South East (the Greater London area), where uptalk is said to be an innovation.

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 Corfu Greek are understood by speakers of Athenian Greek.

Question tunes are investigated with data from Corfu and Athens.

High 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 Southern Standard British English (SSBE), spoken in London and the South East, which may not have the H* ~ LH* contrast, and varieties like that of Newcastle, in which H* L-L% is habitually replaced by uptalk).

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

High Accents in Greek

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


This applies to Athenian Greek but not to Greek spoken in Corfu. Thus the situation in these Greek varieties raises the same issues as the situation with SSBE regarding how intonation encodes information structure.


These similarities provide opportunities for comparisons between English and Greek, and a better understanding of cross-dialectal communication between Athenian and Corfiot speakers.

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