From pitch-accent to stress-accent in Basque

José Ignacio Hualde, Gorka Elordieta, Iñaki Gaminde, Rajka Smiljanić

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The prosodie system found in Northern Bizkaian (NB) Basque dialects shares a number of properties with Japanese (a lexical distinction between accented and unaccented words, phrase-initial rise, no durational correlates of accent). In this paper we examine and explore the geographical distribution of the features that make these Basque dialects different from stress languages, on the basis of experimental data. The results of this investigation indicate that within the western Basque area there is a continuum between pitch-accent and stress-accent. We draw two major conclusions for the typology of accentual systems. First of all, the striking coincidence between NB Basque and Tokyo Japanese in a number of important prosodie properties suggests that this set of common properties can be used to characterize an accentual prototype. On the other hand, the existence in the Basque territory of varieties presenting a range of intermediate points between this system and stress systems shows that there is no absolute distinction between stress-accent languages and pitch-accent languages of the type considered here.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLaboratory Phonology 7
PublisherWalter de Gruyter GmbH and Co. KG
Number of pages38
ISBN (Electronic)9783110197105
ISBN (Print)3110170868, 9783110170863
StatePublished - Aug 22 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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