The segmental/suprasegmental debate

Beth Zielinski*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Central to the segmental/suprasegmental debate is the notion that segmental and suprasegmental features are separate entities, and this is reflected in related research, where various studies have investigated the importance of one or the other to intelligibility and/or comprehensibility. At sites of reduced intelligibility, links were made between the characteristics of the speakers’ pronunciation and the listeners’ difficulties identifying the words the speaker intended to say. The prosodic hierarchy provides a useful framework for the analysis of the way different pronunciation features might combine or interact to influence a speaker’s intelligibility. It is important to note that future research investigates how different features of pronunciation combine and interact to reduce intelligibility, and also explores the role played by both the speaker and the listener. The way listeners identify individual words in a stream of continuous speech is language specific and based on the listener’s L1 speech processing strategies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe handbook of English pronunciation
    EditorsMarnie Reed, John M. Levis
    Place of PublicationChichester, West Sussex
    PublisherWiley-Blackwell, Wiley
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Electronic)9781118346952, 9781118346662
    ISBN (Print)9781118314470
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Publication series

    NameBlackwell handbooks in linguistics


    • comprehensibility
    • intelligibility
    • listeners’ difficulties
    • listener’s L1 speech processing strategies
    • prosodic hierarchy
    • segmental debate
    • speakers’ pronunciation
    • suprasegmental debate


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