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Some notes on Tagalog prosody and scrambling


Norvin Richards

MIT, 32-D868 MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139, US
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This paper outlines some facts of Tagalog prosody. The basic pitch excursions of Tagalog turn out to be remarkably similar to those of Irish, as described by Elfner (2012; 2015). After discussing in some detail the properties of Tagalog pitch rises and falls, and their sensitivity to the position of stress and of prosodic word boundaries, I make an observation about the interaction of word order with pitch peak height. It turns out that objects are generally higher-pitched than subjects would be in the same position, both in VOS and in VSO order; interestingly, this generalization is blind to the “Philippine-style voice” system, and makes reference only to thematic subjects and objects. I speculate that this generalization represents the Tagalog expression of nuclear stress: objects, no matter where they are in the Tagalog sentence, receive nuclear stress, realized as a heightened pitch peak.

This article is part of Special Collection: Prosody and Constituent Structure

How to Cite: Richards, N. (2017). Some notes on Tagalog prosody and scrambling. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 2(1), 21. DOI:
Published on 24 Mar 2017.
Peer Reviewed


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