Research Paper

A tonal scaling contrast in Majorcan Catalan interrogatives


This paper reports the application of the Categorical Perception paradigm to a pitch height contrast in the nuclear accent between yes-no and what-questions in Majorcan Catalan. Using two natural tokens produced by a female speaker, two intonational continua were created, from yes-no to what-question contour and vice versa, by shifting the peak in 4 steps of 15 Hz each. 42 Majorcan Catalan listeners participated in a two-part experiment, consisting of an identification and a discrimination task. The results from the identification task showed that it is possible to switch the perceived category by manipulating the pitch height of the leading tone. Also, Reaction Times were shorter within categories and longer between categories. Discrimination results revealed that the shift in the identification function corresponded to the peak in the discrimination function. The comparisons between obtained and predicted discrimination results indicated that discrimination can be predicted from identification results on the basis of phonetic categorization. These results confirmed that the difference in pitch height of the leading tone in nuclear accent for yes-no and what-questions in Majorcan Catalan is discrete and has a phonological character. In addition, the discrimination results revealed that Majorcan listeners are more sensitive to F0 differences when the first token is lower in frequency than the second.

How to Cite

Vanrell, M., (2007) “A tonal scaling contrast in Majorcan Catalan interrogatives”, Journal of Portuguese Linguistics 6(1), p.147-178. doi:







Maria del Mar Vanrell (UAB – Dept. Filologia Catalana, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona – Edifici B, 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona) – Spain)



Publication details



Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

File Checksums (MD5)

  • PDF: ae54ac9dc346ad217b438fe31e46e684