Phonetics and phonology in phrase prosody (the case of intonational construction #4 in Russian: phrase accent or boundary tone?)

2021. № 2 (42), 41-64

Sergey V. Knyazev
Vinogradov Russian Language Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences
(Moscow, Russia)
Ksenia A. Savelyeva
Moscow State Lomonosov University
(Moscow, Russia)


The paper reports the results of an experimental study of the so-called “Intonational Construction
#4” intonational contour in Standard Modern Russian with a long (two to seven syllables,
up to three phonological words) postaccented part. The data collected from the total
number of 255 tokens show that in the pronunciation of both naïve and trained/professional
speakers the contour in question may be phonetically realized as L* L- М% (low pitch accent
with a rise on the final syllable), L* М- М% (rapid pitch rise on the syllables adjacent to the
center with with subsequent formation of a tonal plateau) and L* LH- М% (gradual step-bystep
rise in postcenter) depending on the individual strategy of a speaker and on the duration
of the postaccented part of the intonational phrase. The last syllable of the intonational phrase
is the least variable: thus, phonologically contour in question should be treated as L* H%
sinc e, as we claim, the opposition of boundary tones in Standard Modern Russian is binary.