Information structure and intonational accent in Burmese
It tends to be assumed that tonal languages do not make use of intonational tones and accent location for the purpose of conveying information structural aspects of the utterance. This study of read-aloud stories in colloquial Burmese shows that this tonal language does resort to this sort of intonational means for information-structuring reasons. The prosody of Burmese exhibits identifiable intonational patterns, which function on the level of accentual phrases. An accentual phrase constitutes the basic prosodic unit, and it is there that we find the real interaction of information structure, intonation and tone. Accentual phrases are organised around a single accent, the location of which depends on information structural factors. Sentences can consist of a single accentual phrase or a few phrases, while the exact partition into such phrases is also motivated by information- and discourse-structuring considerations.
Keywords: Burmese, prosody, information structure, accent, topic, focus
Published online: 04 January 2021
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