Henriksen is an assistant professor in the Departments of Linguistics and Romance Languages and Literatures. He is known for his research on Spanish dialectology and intonation. This research is a good example of how he combines observational research and careful instrumental measurement to investigate questions about Spanish grammar. Henriksen’s paper is available online now, the printed edition is currently being compiled.

Terminology Cheat Sheet

ToBI (Tones and Break Indices) is a method used for transcribing the intonational patterns of speech first developed by Janet Pierrehumbert and Mary Beckman for English and later extended to other languages (i.e. Sp-ToBI relates to Spanish).

Periphery refers to the location within a sentence, left periphery is the beginning and right periphery is the end.

Spanish wh-questions are those question words that begin with 'wh' when they are written in English; who, what, where, when and why.


Background/Aims: In this paper we aim to resolve the phonological status of utterance-initial rises in Spanish wh-questions. Methods/Analysis 1: In analysis 1 we examine the scaling and alignment properties of utterance-initial rises produced by 14 speakers of Peninsular Spanish. Results/Analysis 1: The results provide evidence for a single bitonal pitch accent at the left periphery (L + < H*) despite multiple options at the right periphery. Conclusion/Analysis 1: Our analysis, relying on the notion of sparse tonal specification, helps to explain Sp_ToBI transcribers' past inconsistencies in labeling wh-question initial rises. Methods/Analysis 2: In analysis 2 we tested whether there are scaling differences between the wh-question contours produced in analysis 1 and statement contours produced by the same 14 speakers. Results/Analysis 2: We showed that speakers scale utterance-initial peaks higher in statements, and that they scale utterance-final peaks higher in wh-questions. Conclusion/Analysis 2: This finding is incompatible with the notion that speakers of Spanish use a higher F0 level from the start of the utterance to distinguish questions from statements.

To learn more about Assistant Professor Henriksen and his work, head to his website!