First Advisor

Tucker Childs

Term of Graduation

Spring 2000

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Applied Linguistics




English language -- Dialects -- Oregon -- Portland, English language -- Oregon -- Portland -- Intonation, Intonation (Phonetics)



Physical Description

1 online resource (118 pages)


This study reports on the use of an intonation contour used in declarative clauses that is referred to in at least some of the literature as a "High Rising Terminal Contour" (HRTs). The intonation pattern is characterized by a final rise, which is similar to the pitch change used in yes-no questions. The purpose of this study is to document the use of this intonation pattern by residents of Portland, Oregon, in order to see what light it can shed on the HRT's status and function, especially among the young to see if it can be implicated in language change.

Data were collected by interviewing a convenience sample of sixteen Portland speakers. Eight females and eight males from four different age-groupings were interviewed. The interviews were tape-recorded and portions of the tapes were analyzed. There was a three-part analysis of the data: 1) Pitch frequencies were analyzed from the utterances of two different speakers with WinCECIL speech analysis software, 2) Portions of the tape were transcribed and analyzed by three different raters in terms of HRT functions, and 3) Twenty-minute segments of each interview were analyzed for frequency counts of HRT use.

The study found that HRTs used by Portland speakers generally rise at a higher percentage then the proposed 40%, and are followed by a pause. The two speakers also were found to use HRTs in different ways, showing that there may be different functions for HRTs then those that have been explored. The study also found that women favor HRT use by a small margin, while the young teens and the middle class favor HRTs by a large margin. The study concludes that the patterns found do not support Labov's theory of language change.


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