Monday, January 7, 2013

Don't Worry! Leave the (Thai) Stress to Me!

In a phonological phrase, the final syllable is often lengthened while the ones preceding it shortened. Therefore, when producing Thai stress, one must keep the last syllables lengthened with the non-final syllables shortened.

Incorrect stress pattern may cause slight confusion to listeners. Speakers uttering the wrong stress may deliver unintended meanings. In particular, they may create more words than intended. For example, "wolf" is a compound made up of mǎa "dog" and pàa "wild, forest". If a speaker does not lengthen the second and shorten the first, he will not have formed a compound noun, and thus creating two words: "dog" and "forest" not "wolf".


Ningz said...

Good work!

I'm so intresting in this, but don't know how to do such survey with Praat or other tools.

Alif Silpachai said...

@Ningz Thank you very much! Gyo'mbaiq! :)

Ian Bartosh said...

Hey Alif, I like how you explained stress with word combinations. Cleared some stuff up for me that I hadn't fully grasped in Thai. Can you do an example with a sentence of multiple "falling tone" words in a row? I can't seem to get the flow correct, always comes out choppy. ex. ไม่ว่างเช้าบ้าน Do we shorten the first three syllables still?

Alif Silpachai said...

Nice to meet you, Ian. If you group those four syllables together (thus forming a phonological phrase) then yes, you would lengthen the final syllable. However, depending on the sentence structure, I believe the first two syllables can form its own phonological phrase, making ว่าง lengthened.

PS. In case you didn't notice your typo, เช้า actually has a high tone not falling; it should instead be เช่า.

Thai stress and intonation is a little more complicated than that, I'm afraid. I'm actually working on a project which I'll be presenting at a linguistic conference on this topic in June in Montreal. What I'm looking at is very similar to your example. In particular, I'm looking at five syllable sentences put in each tone. However, I'm looking at them in not in a neutral context, but rather in emphatic. (emphatic intonation/tune)

Here's what I've found so far. In the emphatic context, the final syllable of each sentence with falling tone, similar to your example, is in fact lengthened.

I hope you find my comment helpful.