Word Stress and Phrase Accent in Georgian


Borise L, Zientarski X. Word Stress and Phrase Accent in Georgian. Proceedings of Tonal Aspects of Languages (TAL) 6 . 2018.
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This paper investigates the properties of stress in Georgian (Kartvelian). There is no agreement in the literature as to the existence or location of stress in Georgian; initial, penultimate or antepenultimate syllables are often quoted as possible stress loci, with potentially more than one of these carrying stress in longer words. It has also been noted that the F0 contour of a word/phrase plays an important role in Georgian, leading to hypotheses that pitch might be the primary cue for stress in Georgian. This paper reports on a pilot study that contributes to disentangling these issues. It concludes Georgian has fixed initial stress, which is primarily duration-based and is easiest to detect in shorter words, while in longer words its durational effect is obscured by polysyllabic shortening. There is no evidence, however, for a similar duration-based stress-like target on the antepenultimate/ penultimate syllable. Instead, it is a pitch target that is part of the prosodic makeup of a phrase. The high importance of this pitch target for the prosodic felicity of an utterance, and the insignificant role that stress plays in the overall phonological make-up of Georgian, raise questions about the typological properties of the loci of word-level and phrase-level prominence.