Perception of Word-level Prominence in Free Word Order Language Discourse

Tatiana Luchkina*, Jennifer S. Cole

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This study examines the contribution of constituent order, prosody, and information structure to the perception of word-level prominence in Russian, a free word order language. Prominence perception is investigated through the analysis of prominence ratings of nominal words in two published narrative texts. Word-level perceived prominence ratings were obtained from linguistically naïve native speakers of Russian in two tasks: a silent prominence rating task of the read text passages, and an auditory prominence rating task of the same texts as read aloud by a native Russian speaker. Analyses of the prominence ratings reveal a greater likelihood of perceived prominence for words introducing discourse-new referents, as well as words occurring in a non-canonical sentence position, and featuring acoustic-prosodic enhancement. The results show that prosody and word order vary probabilistically in relation to information structure in read-aloud narrative, suggesting a complex interaction of prosody, word order, and information structure underlying the perception of prominence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-412
Number of pages32
JournalLanguage and Speech
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Free word order
  • Russian
  • word-level prominence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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