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I'm looking for sound files that illustrate the distinction between the two pitch contours of long vowels and diphthongs in Lithuanian, e.g. kóšė (falling pitch) vs. kõšė (rising pitch). Does anyone know of available recordings of such minimal pairs? I'm especially interested in those "diphthongs" that consist of sequences of short vowel plus sonorant, e.g. káltas vs. kal̃tas.

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There are recordings of Lithuanian at the UCLA phonetics archive, though you would have to do some work to determine what accent type a given word is (probably involves nothing more than a dictionary). The 1972 recording is lousy quality so not worth listening to. The last two (speaker from Kaunas) is probably not worth messing with because of uncontrolled list intonation that screws up pitch. There is some of that with the Illinois and Panevežys speakers especially with minimal pairs, but in just plain readings of words there seems to be a pitch distinction preserved. This is a good object lesson n how not to record data in a language with pitch distinctions.

There is also a substantial body of Lithuanian samples on Forvo where again with some work you might find what you want, but at least you are getting pronunciations where the speaker just says the word and isn't doing it in a rise-fall alternating word-comparison fashion. Unfortunately, there is no FSI Lithuanian course. You could try this paper on acoustics of Lithuanian, which has 3 speaker icons implying recordings, though often PPT sound files get left behind or rendered unplayable.

  • Thanks! I was able to find a few minimal pairs through Forvo and from the UCLA Panevežys speaker (the Illinois speaker I suspect has a slight US accent). What I mostly hear are differences in vowel and sonorant duration and in vowel quality, rather than pitch; not sure if I'm failing to hear the contours, or it's an artefact of the recitation environment, or if that's really how the contrast normally manifests. – TKR Jun 19 '16 at 22:56

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