Blackfoot, an Algonquian language spoken in Alberta and Montana, has been described as a pitch accent language (Frantz and Russell 1989; Frantz 1991; Kaneko 1999). Pitch accent languages mark phonetic prominence with a difference in pitch on the prominent syllable. Beckman (1986) has shown that Japanese (a prototypical pitch accent language) differs from English (a prototypical stress language) in that fundamental frequency (pitch) is the only variable that marks prominence in Japanese, whereas several variables mark prominence in English. These variables include fundamental frequency (F0) peak, amplitude peak, average amplitude, total amplitude and duration. Based on Beckman's analysis of Japanese, we would expect Blackfoot, as a pitch accent language, to mark prominence only with F0, thus patterning with Japanese. However, this analysis shows that in addition to F0, average amplitude was also correlated with prominence in Blackfoot, amplitude peak, total amplitude and duration were not. These results suggest that Blackfoot is different than Japanese in how prominence is marked. However, the results are similar enough to justify the classification of Japanese as a pitch accent language.
Van der Mark, S. (2002). The acoustic correlates of Blackfoot prominence. Calgary Working Papers in Linguistics, 24(Fall), 169-216.