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On the perception of prosodic prominences and boundaries in Papuan Malay

Sonja Riesberg; Janina Kalbertodt; Stefan Baumann; Nikolaus P. Himmelmann

This paper reports the results of two perception experiments on the prosody of Papuan
Malay. We investigated how native Papuan Malay listeners perceive prosodic prominences
on the one hand, and boundaries on the other, following the Rapid Prosody Transcription
method as sketched in Cole & Shattuck-Hufnagel (2016). Inter-rater agreement between the
participants was shown to be much lower for prosodic prominences than for boundaries.
Importantly, however, the acoustic cues for prominences and boundaries largely overlap.
Hence, one could claim that inasmuch as prominence is perceived at all in Papuan Malay, it
is perceived at boundaries, making it doubtful whether prosodic prominence can be usefully
distinguished from boundary marking in this language. Our results thus essentially confirm
the results found for Standard Indonesian by Goedemans & van Zanten (2007) and vari-
ous claims regarding the production of other local varieties of Malay; namely, that Malayic
varieties appear to lack stress (i.e. lexical stress as well as post-lexical pitch accents).

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