The behavior of H* and L* under variations in pitch range in Dutch rising contours

Carlos Gussenhoven*, T Rietveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


A Dutch rising intonation contour can be realized either as a rise that begins low and ends mid-to-high ("low rise") or as a rise that begins mid and ends high ("high rise"). These two contours could either be the extremes on a phonetic continuum representing a single phonological contour, for instance L* H-H%, or be realizations of two phonologically different contours, L* H-H% and H* H-H%. In order to decide between these two analyses, listeners were asked to rate stimuli with different pitch ranges on a number of semantic scales whose meanings vary with pitch range. Our hypothesis was that H-tones are higher as the pitch range increases, while L* is lower. Two preliminary experiments, in which we presented F0 contours of high rises and low rises in a number of different pitch ranges, revealed that perceived surprise, rather than perceived prominence, is an appropriate response variable for measuring pitch range perception, where increased pitch range corresponds to higher H-tones and lower L*. Subsequently, listeners were asked to indicate the degree to which each of a number of appropriately manipulated stimuli expressed "Surprise." The results lend strong support to the hypothesis that the low rise and the high rise are categorically distinct contours of Dutch, and that their first tones are L* and H*, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-203
Number of pages21
JournalLanguage and Speech
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
EventESCA Workshop on Intonation - Theory, Models and Applications - ATHENS, Greece
Duration: 18 Sep 199720 Sep 1997


  • high rise
  • intonation
  • intonational phonology
  • low rise
  • pitch accent

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