Observations on Basic Intonational Patterns of Questions and Statements in Standard Lithuanian


  • Asta Kazlauskienė Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania
  • Sigita Dereškevičiūtė Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania




yes/no question, wh- question, statement, fundamental frequency, boundary tone, pitch accent


This paper discusses the results of the pilot study on intonational patterns of questions and statements in Lithuanian. Special attention is devoted to the tone changes at the end of the intonational phrase, i.e. to the boundary tone and the pitch accent of the last word. In order to identify the main patterns, a corpus of 96 tokens (statements, questions with wh-word ‘kada’ and yes/no questions with and without interrogative word ‘ar’ read by four speakers) has been examined. F0 measurements were extracted using Praat. The audio files were annotated based on the main principles of the autosegmental-metrical phonology: high tone is marked with H, low tone – L, pitch accent – ‘*’ and boundary tone – ‘%.’ In the perception experiment, the participants were asked to identify the statements and questions (the interrogative words were removed). 21 native speakers participated in the experiment.
The results have shown that the end of the statements in Standard Lithuanian is described by low tones (L* L%), whereas questions can have tones as follows: high-low (HL* L%), low (L* L%) and low-high (LH* H%). The tone patterns at the end of the questions depend on the presence or absence of the interrogation word: wh- questions are characterized by low tones at the end of phrase (L *L%), yes/no questions with an interrogative word ‘ar’ may have low (L* L%) or rising tones (LH* H%), and yes/no questions without an interrogative word end in rising (LH* H%) or falling (HL* L%) tones. The patterns with low or falling tones are common for the questions with an interrogative word and (or) focus word in a non-final position of the phrase. The results of the perception experiment allow us to draw preliminary conclusions that the high boundary tone, the interrogative word and the pitch accent of the focused word are equivalent markers of a question in Lithuanian.