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Neural Asymmetry in the Perception of South Swedish Word Accents


  • Huayuan Cui

Summary, in English

South Swedish, as a dialect of modern Swedish, has two tonal word accents, accent 1 and accent 2. Regarding these two word accents, there are three groups of hypotheses on which one is more lexically specified. The first group believes that accent 2 is more specified and accent 1 is default shaped by intonation, whereas the second group deems that accent 1 is lexically specified and accent 2 is the default accent. The third group, however, holds the hypothesis that both word accents are specified. In order to find evidence from the brain level to support one of those hypotheses, a mismatch negativity (MMN) study under the passive oddball paradigm was conducted in the present study. Results show that in South Swedish accent 1 elicited significant early MMN while accent 2 elicited significant and robust late MMN. The asymmetry in temporal and amplitude domain suggests that accent 2 has more linguistic information encoded, which suggests that accent 2 in South Swedish has a more specific memory trace in native speakers’ mental phonology. According to the underspecification theory, the more specified structure has more specific memory representation than underspecified features. In conclusion, the results of the present study support the first group’s hypothesis, which is that accent 2 is more lexically specified than accent 1 in South Swedish.


  • Master's Programme: Language and Linguistics
  • Phonetics

Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • speech perception
  • South Swedish
  • Swedish word accents
  • mismatch negativity
  • MMN


  • Mikael Roll