Session Prosody IX:

Prosody IX: Discourse

Type: oral
Chair: Richard Ogden
Date: Thursday - August 09, 2007
Time: 13:20
Room: 4 (Green)


Prosody IX-1 On pitch and perceptual prominence in conversational Finnish speech
Mietta Lennes, Department of Speech Sciences, University of Helsinki
Paper File
  In this preliminary study, the relationship between pitch patterns and perceived prominence of word-initial syllables are investigated in conversational Finnish for one female and one male speaker. Possibilities for comparing pitch distributions for different speakers are also addressed. Prominent syllables were marked for two speakers, and the pitch levels and pitch changes were analyzed around these syllables. It was found that the level of pitch at prominent syllables tends to be slightly higher than the pitch level in non-prominent syllables. Prominent syllables are also more often associated with a pitch rise with respect to the preceding syllable. However, the most significant correlation was found between perceptual prominence and decrease in pitch from the prominent (word-initial) syllable towards the next syllable. Thus, both the pitch level and the pitch movement around perceptually prominent syllables may represent cues for prominence in conversational Finnish.
Prosody IX-2 The prosody of backchannels in American English
Stefan Benus, Brown University
Agustin Gravano, Columbia University
Julia Hirschberg, Columbia University
Paper File
  We examine prosodic and contextual factors characterizing the backchannel function of single affirmative words. Data is drawn from collaborative task-oriented dialogues between speakers of Standard American English. Despite high lexical variability, backchannels are prosodically well defined: they have higher pitch and intensity and greater pitch slope than affirmative words expressing other pragmatic functions. Additionally, we identify phrase-final rising pitch as a salient trigger for backchanneling.
Prosody IX-3 Clicks as Markers of New Sequences in English Conversation
Melissa Wright, University of Central England
Paper File Additional Files
  This paper analyses the use of clicks in naturally-occurring English conversation. It demonstrates that regardless of any paralinguistic functions that clicks may undertake, their occurrence is orderly and systematic, and intimately tied to the interactional structure of talk. Specifically, clicks are shown to function alongside various phonetic parameters, such as pitch, glottalisation and loudness (and the sequential and lexical organisation of talk), to demarcate the onset of new and disjunctive sequences. These findings challenge the traditional view that clicks function only paralinguistically in English. They also highlight the fruitfulness of implementing context-bound phonetic investigations alongside interactional analyses.

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