Non-convergence of pitch and duration: Word-prosody of Garo

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Garo is an understudied Sino-Tibetan language spoken in Northeast India. There is currently only an impressionistic description of its word prosody by Burling (2003) which says that it is a stress final language. Recent studies have highlighted problems with impressionistic descriptions of prosody (de Lacy, 2014), and methodological problems with some acoustic studies which do not control for confounds of sentence prominence (Gordon, 2014; Roettger & Gordon, 2017). Edge prominent languages also have added complexity about whether prominence should be analysed as metrical prominence or boundary effect (Jun, 1998; Jun & Fougeron, 2000). Keeping all of these facts in mind, a production study was designed to elicited target words in carrier sentences which controlled for confounds of higher level prosody following Athanasopoulou et al. (2021) and Vogel et al. (2017). Binary logistic regression conducted on the measurements of acoustic properties revealed that F0 is the cue for stress in Garo. I analysed the F0 pattern as an intonational pitch LH* where L associated to the first syllable and H* associates to the final syllable. The cue for stress in Garo is thus more specifically an association of intonational pitch accent. Due to the trisyllabic structure of the target words in this study, the foot structure could not be determined. The cues for stress were not found to be enhanced under focus and they were also found to be unaffected post-focally. The focus particle was found to add an IP boundary at the end of the focused constituent and additionally, it was found to upstep the L of the LH* intonational pitch accent. Therefore, the prosodic focus is present only with the focus particle in Garo. The findings of this study thus confirm that Garo has word stress on the final syllable signaled by F0. What separates Garo from other edge prominent languages is that it has F0 events on every prosodic word making it clear that it has stress. The prosodic expression of focus is also only present with the focus particle which makes it similar to other languages with morphosyntactic ways of expressing focus.
Phonology, Phonetics, Laboratory Phonology, Garo, Sino-Tibetan, Word-stress, Metrical stress theory, Boundary phenomenon, F0, Focus, Post-focal compression, Focus particle, Morphosyntactic focus marking
A Sangma, C. B. (2022). Non-convergence of pitch and duration: word-prosody of Garo (Master's thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from