The Relevance of Downstep for a Phonetic Component

  • Douglas Pulleyblank
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 4)


In this chapter, it will be shown that the study of downstep systems can shed light on the distinction between phonetic and phonological components. Downstep is particularly relevant in this respect because it involves the phonetic interpretation of phonological strings. Consider the following examples from Tiv, in which the phonetic pitch level of ‘not’ depends on the preceding tone: Although phonlogically is the same in the both examples — linked to a H-tone — its phonetic realization is different. In (1a), is on the same pitch-level as á (also H-toned), while in (1b), is phonetically lower than á because of the intervening L-toned ver dzà.


Phonological Representation Head Noun Final Lowering Tonal Pattern Contour Tone 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Pulleyblank
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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