This study investigates an intonation contour of German whose status has notbeen established yet: a globally falling contour with a slight rise at the very end ofthe phrase (FSR). The contour may be said to lie on a phonetic continuum betweenfalling (F) and falling-rising (FR) contours. It is hypothesized that F, FR and FSR dif-ferwith respect to their communicative functions: F is terminal, FR is non-terminal,and FSR is pseudo-terminal, respectively. The hypotheses were tested in two steps.First, measurements in a labelled corpus of spontaneous speech provided the nec-essarybackground information on the phonetics of the contours. In the secondstep, the general hypothesis was approached in a perceptual experiment using theparadigm of a semantic differential: 49 listeners judged 17 systematically gener-atedstimuli on nine semantic scales, such as ‘impolite/polite’. The hypotheses weregenerally confirmed. Both F and FSR were associated with a conclusive statement,while FR was more likely to be judged as marking a question. FSR differs from F inthat it does not express features such as categoricalness, dominance or impolite-ness.The results are interpreted as an instance of the frequency code: the additionof a slight rise means avoidance of extremely low F0 ; the functional consequence isa reduction of communicated dominance.

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