• authors = Ch. Themistocleous
  • date = “2015-01-01”
  • publication = “Language and Speech”
  • title = “Seeking an anchorage: Evidence from the tonal alignment of the Cypriot Greek prenuclear pitch accent.”
  • url = “”


Although tonal alignment constitutes a quintessential property of pitch accents, its exact characteristics remain unclear. This study, by exploring the timing of the Cypriot Greek L+H prenuclear pitch accent, examines the predictions of three hypotheses about tonal alignment: the invariance hypothesis, the segmental anchoring hypothesis, and the segmental anchorage hypothesis. The study reports on two experiments: the first of which manipulates the syllable patterns of the stressed syllable, and the second of which modifies the distance of the L+H from the following pitch accent. The findings on the alignment of the low tone (L) are illustrative of the segmental anchoring hypothesis predictions: the L persistently aligns inside the onset consonant, a few milliseconds before the stressed vowel. However, the findings on the alignment of the high tone (H) are both intriguing and unexpected: the alignment of the H depends on the number of unstressed syllables that follow the prenuclear pitch accent. The ‘wandering’ of the H over multiple syllables is extremely rare among languages, and casts doubt on the invariance hypothesis and the segmental anchoring hypothesis, as well as indicating the need for a modified version of the segmental anchorage hypothesis. To address the alignment of the H, we suggest that it aligns within a segmental anchorage–the area that follows the prenuclear pitch accent–in such a way as to protect the paradigmatic contrast between the L+H prenuclear pitch accent and the L+H nuclear pitch accent.