Between- and Within-Speaker Effects of Bilingualism on F0 Variation

Rob Voigt, Dan Jurafsky, Meghan Sumner

To what extent is prosody shaped by cultural and social factors? Existing research has shown that an individual bilingual speaker exhibits differences in framing, ideology, and personality when speaking their two languages. To understand whether these differences extend to prosody we study F0 variation in a corpus of interviews with German-Italian and German-French bilingual speakers. We find two primary effects. First, a between-speaker effect: these two groups of bilinguals make different use of F0 even when they are all speaking German. Second, a within-speaker effect: bilinguals use F0 differently depending on which language they are speaking, differences that are consistent across speakers. These effects are modulated strongly by gender, suggesting that language-specific social positioning may play a central role. These results have important implications for our understanding of bilingualism and cross-cultural linguistic difference in general. Prosody appears to be a moving target rather than a stable feature, as speakers use prosodic variation to position themselves on cultural and social axes like linguistic context and gender.

DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2016-1506

Cite as

Voigt, R., Jurafsky, D., Sumner, M. (2016) Between- and Within-Speaker Effects of Bilingualism on F0 Variation. Proc. Interspeech 2016, 1122-1126.

author={Rob Voigt and Dan Jurafsky and Meghan Sumner},
title={Between- and Within-Speaker Effects of Bilingualism on F0 Variation},
booktitle={Interspeech 2016},