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date: 24 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article provides an overview on segmental and tonal variations. The gap between the phonological (i.e. categorical) and physical (i.e. gradient) structure of speech in generative models has led to the development of new models. One of these models is articulatory phonology, which assumes that phonological representations consist of abstract articulatory gestures, rather than segments or features. Articulatory phonology can account for many phenomena that are well explained by non-linear phonology, since the temporal alignment of gestures may be changed, which may result in the overlap of different gestures in time. The assumption that gestures may overlap in time and be reduced in size, even to zero, makes articulatory phonology a very powerful theory. Tonal coarticulation varies as a function of prosodic factors such as segmental coarticulation. Prosodic strength also affects the temporal extent of tonal coarticulation. The prosodic organization of a language typically includes different levels of grouping, such as prosodic word vs. the intonational phrase. Segmental coarticulation is known to vary as a function of the position of target segments within a particular prosodic domain and their prominence status. The tonal variation is employed at the discourse level along with other prosodic cues such as duration and intensity, to package an utterance so as to integrate it into the information flow of ongoing discourse, a phenomenon known as the prosodic encoding of information structure.

Keywords: segmental variations, tonal variations, articulatory phonology, segmental coarticulation, prosodic strength

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