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Title:Some Aspects of Prominence in Assamese and Assamese English
Authors:Shakuntala Mahanta
Abstract:This dissertation establishes the pattern of prominence in Assamese and Assamese English. It shows for the first time that Assamese exemplifies a left-to-right trochaic system with an iterative binary rhythm. However, this rhythmic profile is disturbed by the occurrence of closed syllables deemed to be heavy.

To support our intuitive judgments of prominence in Assamese with acoustic evidence, we conducted some experiments on PRAAT (a computer software for speech analysis). In chapter 3, we report the preliminary experiments which reveal that the acoustic correlate of primary prominence could very well be syllable duration and a low tone. Moreover, our intuitive judgments of prominence were vindicated by the surface phonetic realization of the F0 contours in our acoustic experiments. In a sequence of two light syllables, a distinct low tone on the first light syllable indicated primary prominence. In a light and heavy sequence, the F0 contour manifested as a plateau, instead of a falling trough, indicating the assignment of prominence to the following heavy syllable. In addition, the syllable duration of the prominent syllable was consistently longer than the other syllable. The fact that vowel duration was not found to be a significant correlate of prominence in the language is not surprising, as vowel length is not phonemic in the language. However, a clear picture of the correlate of secondary prominence did not emerge. Our tentative hypothesis regarding acoustic correlates for prominence is:

1) Syllable duration, computed after eliminating variability dependent on utterance length.

2) Low tone associated on non-final feet, as the right edge of the word is associated with a high tone.

In chapter 4, the pattern of prominence is analyzed within the
framework of Optimality Theory. We rank a set of universal constraints, to arrive at an optimality theoretic grammar of the language. These constraints also help us to establish the prosodic typology of the language. The language seems to allow only moraic trochees, which consists of two types of feet, LL (two light syllables) and H (a single heavy syllable). This is ensured by a high ranked FEET TYPE TROCHAIC and FEET BINARITY. While rhythmic prominence is accounted for by the domination of PARSE SYLLABLE over ALL FEET LEFT. Partial sensitivity to syllable weight is accounted for by the undominated *CLASH over WSP.

Chapter 5 takes a brief look at Assamese English. It shows that the
prominence pattern of Assamese English is identical with that of Assamese, and the English vowel system is re-interpreted by the Assamese speakers to fall in line with that of Assamese.

Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1