The perceptual importance of falling pitch for speakers from different dialects of Swedish


  • Sabine Gosselke Berthelsen Lund University


Falling pitch has long been argued to be a key feature in the distinction of Swedish pitch accents. In this paper, neurophysiological evidence substantiating the perceptual importance of HL pitch contours at the word level is discussed. When presented with novel words, Swedes across different dialect areas preattentively distinguished meaningful words with falling pitch. The preattentive response to meaningful HL contours in foreign words was likely based on transfer from the native tongue, thus providing evidence for the importance of falling pitch in the discrimination of word accents in four Swedish dialect areas. However, while falls appear to hold a key function in all dialect groups, additional dialect-dependent pitch patterns emerged that also affected preattentive word discrimination.