LOT Summer School 2018

Phonetic correlates of word and sentence stress

Vincent van Heuven



Title of the course:

Phonetic correlates of word and sentence stress


Intermediate (students are expected to have followed at least a BA course in Phonetics).

Course description:

It has been estimated that about half of the languages in the world have stress, i.e., a structural property by which one syllable in a word is felt to be stronger than the other(s), or one word is felt to be stronger than other words in a phrase or sentence. We will review classical studies on the phonetic properties of English and Dutch that distinguish stressed units from their unstressed counterparts, with emphasis on experimental design and measurement procedures. Techniques will be demonstrated in class and practiced at home using Praat software (Boersma & Weenink, 1996). The survey will then be supplemented by more recent work on a range of other languages. We will ask ourselves whether the acoustic and/or perceptual importance of stress correlates (such as duration of vowels and consonants, peak and mean intensity, spectral expansion/reduction, spectral slope) is fixed or varies across languages (and if the latter, why this might be so). The course includes special lectures on the interaction between word stress and sentence stress, of stress and tone (in languages with hybrid stress-and-tone word prosody) and on the role of stress in the recognition of words and information processing in spoken sentences/paragraphs.

Provisional schedule & reading list (two instruction hours in either morning of afternoon, five days)


General introduction. Terminology. Survey of classical work on production of stress in English and Dutch. Design of studies. Acoustic analysis of parameters relevant to word stress (segment duration, intensity, spectral slope, spectral expansion).

Read: Van Bergem (1993), Cutler (2005), De Jong et al. (1993), Van Heuven (2017 §1, 2018 §§1-2), Van Heuven & Sluijter (1996), Van Heuven & Turk (2018, appendix), Lehto (1969), Sluijter et al. (1995), Sluijter & Van Heuven (1996).


Acoustic analysis of parameters relevant to sentence stress. Interaction of word stress and sentence stress. Division of work between parameters in languages with hybrid stress-and-tone word prosody.

Read: Beckman & Edwards (1994), Van Heuven (1998, 2018 §4), Remijsen (2002), Remijsen & Van Heuven (2005), Maniwa et al. (2009)


Perception of word and sentence stress. Experimental design. Relative importance of stress cues. Data analysis and presentation of results. Stress deafness.

Read: Fry 1955, 1958, 1965, Van Heuven (2018 §3), Van Heuven & De Jonge (2011), Peperkamp & Dupoux (2002)


Cross-linguistic comparison of stress cues. Languages with fixed stress vs. variable/contrastive stress. Pros and cons of the functional load hypothesis.

Read: Berinstein (1979), Dogil & Williams (1999), Gordon & Roettger (2014), Van Heuven (2018a §4), Lunden et al. (2017), Potisuk et al. (1976), Vogel et al. (2017),


Role of stress in spoken word recognition. Role of sentence stress in the processing of spoken sentences.

Read: Cutler (1986, 2005), Cutler & Van Donselaar (2001), Cutler & Darwin (1981), Van Heuven (1988), Jesse et al. (2017), Nooteboom & Terken (1984).


Papers in Laboratory Phonology III: Phonological sructure and phonetic form. Cambridge University Press, 7-33.

Speech Communication, 12, 1-23.

UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics, 47, 1‑59.

Report 136, Institute of Phonetic Sciences, University of Amsterdam.

Forbear is a homophone: Lexical prosody does not constrain lexical access. Language and Speech, 29, 201-220.

The handbook of speech perception. Oxford: Blackwell, 264-289.

Perception & Psychophysics, 29, 217-224.

Voornaam is not a homophone: Lexical prosody and lexical access in Dutch. Language and Speech, 44, 171-195.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 14, 113-121. Reprinted in G.T.M. Altmann (Ed.) (2002). Psycholinguistics: Critical Concepts. London: Routledge; Vol 1, pp. 157-177.

Language and Speech, 36, 197-212.

Word prosodic systems in the languages of Europe. De Gruyter, Berlin, 273-334.

Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 27, 765-768.

Language and Speech, 1, 126-152.

Proceedings of the 5th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Karger, Basel/New York, 306-311.

Linguistic Vanguard, 7, 1-7.

Proceedings of the 7th FASE/Speech-88 Symposium. Edinburgh: The Institute of Acoustics, 811-818.

Small words in the big picture. Squibs for Hans Bennis. Leiden: Holland Institute of Generative Linguistics, 37-42.

Nederlandse Taalkunde, 22, 3-29, 43-46.

The Study of Word Stress and Accent. Cambridge University Press (to appear, preprint).

Phonetica, 68, 120-132.

Stress patterns of the world, Part 1: Background (HIL Publications, 2). Holland Academic Graphics, The Hague, 233-269.

Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 190-198.

Phonology, 34, 565-580.

. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 125, 3962-3973.

Phonetica, 53, 200-220.

Laboratory Phonology VII. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 585-614.

Phonology, 22, 205-235.

Proceedings of the 13th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Stock­holm, 630-633.

Proceedings of ICSLP 96. Applied Science and Engineering Laboratories, Alfred I. duPont Institute, Philadelphia, 630-633.

Language and Cognitive Processes, 2, 145-163.

Dimensions of phonological stress. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 123-167.