Are There Pitch Accents in English?

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Are There Pitch Accents in English?

Postby benny335 » Wed 08 Aug 2012 1:32 am

I have no idea what category to post this in. Sorry.
Any way... I've been wondering if there are pitch accents in the English language. I've scoured the internet, wikipedia, etc. and I can not find anything. There was a section for English and pitch accents but it only told of the system used to show people what pitches English uses, not how we use them etc.

So if anyone can help, it would be much appreciated. ^_^
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Re: Are There Pitch Accents in English?

Postby linguoboy » Wed 08 Aug 2012 3:20 am

No.
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Re: Are There Pitch Accents in English?

Postby Tikolm » Wed 08 Aug 2012 3:39 pm

linguoboy wrote:No.

No? I thought somebody a while back mentioned "tonal English". Is there no such thing? In any case, I've never heard of any dialect of English that had any kind of pitch accent, so I'd be inclined to agree with you.
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Re: Are There Pitch Accents in English?

Postby linguoboy » Wed 08 Aug 2012 4:30 pm

Tikolm wrote:
linguoboy wrote:No.

No? I thought somebody a while back mentioned "tonal English". Is there no such thing? In any case, I've never heard of any dialect of English that had any kind of pitch accent, so I'd be inclined to agree with you.

It's not impossible--I now there are dialects of Limburgish which have developed pitch-accent. But I've never seen an account of anywhere of such a phenomenon in English, and I'm fairly well read when it comes to English dialectology.
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Re: Are There Pitch Accents in English?

Postby benny335 » Wed 08 Aug 2012 4:59 pm

I'm wondering... I know that the pitch of your voice can change the meaning of the of the sentense.
But I don't know.
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Re: Are There Pitch Accents in English?

Postby linguoboy » Wed 08 Aug 2012 5:23 pm

benny335 wrote:I'm wondering... I know that the pitch of your voice can change the meaning of the of the sentense.

That's not the same thing as "pitch-accent" at all. Pitch-accent is lexical. That is, it distinguishes words. If a particular word has a particular pitch-accent, it will always be pronounced with that accent--just like if a particular word has a particular stress accent, it will always be pronounced with that stress. You can change the meaning of a sentence based on which word you stress, but this doesn't alter the placement of the stress on the word itself.

You're confusing pitch-accent with sentence intonation.
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Re: Are There Pitch Accents in English?

Postby AnitaRai » Mon 10 Dec 2012 5:43 am

I agree with linguoboy.

Sentence intonation is in fact quite important in language or dialect identity. Some English accents or dialects are more "sing-song" than others. Some English accents end sentences upwards, others end it downwards. Some English dialects depend on pitch to ask questions much more than others do. But none of these are pitch-accents.
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Re: Are There Pitch Accents in English?

Postby Binyamin » Mon 13 May 2013 12:18 pm

The closest to "pitch accents" in English seem to be words with multiple meanings, where an intonation is used to signal which meaning is intended. For example: "defense" (military concept) and "defense" (side of a football team). Again, this is not the true definition of pitch accent.
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Re: Are There Pitch Accents in English?

Postby Dan_ad_nauseam » Mon 13 May 2013 11:39 pm

Binyamin wrote:The closest to "pitch accents" in English seem to be words with multiple meanings, where an intonation is used to signal which meaning is intended. For example: "defense" (military concept) and "defense" (side of a football team). Again, this is not the true definition of pitch accent.


I analyze that as more of a stress accent anyway.
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Re: Are There Pitch Accents in English?

Postby linguoboy » Tue 14 May 2013 3:38 pm

Dan_ad_nauseam wrote:
Binyamin wrote:The closest to "pitch accents" in English seem to be words with multiple meanings, where an intonation is used to signal which meaning is intended. For example: "defense" (military concept) and "defense" (side of a football team). Again, this is not the true definition of pitch accent.

I analyze that as more of a stress accent anyway.

Yeah, pitch is a component of lexical stress in English, but so is loudness and length/quality.

One of the features that gives the Welsh accent its distinctive quality is the fact that final syllables generally receive high pitch but lack other features associated with lexical stress in English.
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