Question intonation in Southern Swedish


  • Merle Horne Lund University
  • Mikael Roll Lund University


Swedish has been generally assumed not to have any well-defined question intona­tion. However, with respect to Southern Swedish, Lindblad & Gårding (1973) present data showing final rises in polar (Y/N) questions. Gårding (1979) also as­sumes a broader and higher F0 range in Y/N questions than in statements, particu­larly on the final focussed word. The present study investigates the extent to which these question cues occur in a material involving spontaneous dialogues led by a speaker of Southern Swedish (Malmö). Results for utterances with question syntax show final rises in 16% of the Y/N questions and 3% of the Wh-questions. For utterances without question syntax, 79% were associated with final rises. Compar­ing F0 on the first prosodic word of questions, both Y/N- and Wh-questions showed a significantly higher F0 level (ca. 2-3 ST higher) than statements. A further com­parison of the F0 level on the most prominent word following the first prosodic word in questions and statements showed that Y/N questions had a higher F0 on the most prominent word than statements. However, Wh-questions did not differ significantly from statements in that respect. Thus initial F0-level appears to be a strong prosodic cue distinguishing between questions (both Y/N questions and Wh-questions) and statements in the Southern Swedish material examined. F0 level on the most promi­nent word following the first prosodic word is also a reliable prosodic cue distinguishing Y/N questions from statements and Wh-questions, but not for distinguishing between Y/N questions and Wh-questions.