The acoustic correlates of lexical stress in Israeli Hebrew

Vered Silber-Varod, Hagit Sagi, Noam Amir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lexical stress is an omnipresent phenomenon in spoken language, serving in many cases to disambiguate lexically identical words. Lexical stress in Spoken Israeli Hebrew is usually either penultimate or final, however its prosodic cues have not been measured systematically. In the present study the acoustics of lexical stress were characterized in detail. A list of 34 two-syllable stress-based minimal pairs was collected, where each word form has a different meaning. Each lexical word was embedded in a carrier sentence, thus creating 68 sentences, in which each word-form appeared once in sentence-middle position. Thirty speakers, gender balanced, uttered each sentence, giving a total of 2040 utterance productions. All syllable and vowel boundaries of the target words were annotated manually, and three acoustical parameters - duration, f0 and intensity - were measured for each nucleus vowel. Statistical analysis revealed that vowel duration was the dominant marker of Hebrew lexical stress; f0 played a minor role in indicating stress; while intensity played a more prominent role than f0. Regression analysis showed that the above three cues explained 80% of the variance, with duration contributing 77% and intensity and f0 1.5% each.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Phonetics
StatePublished - 1 May 2016


  • Acoustic analysis
  • Duration, f0, and intensity
  • Intrinsic and extrinsic comparisons
  • Lexical stress
  • Prosodic cues
  • Spoken Israeli Hebrew

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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