The probabilistic relationship between pitch accents and information status in public speech

Suyeon Im, Jennifer Cole, Stefan Baumann


Pitch accents encode semantic or pragmatic meaning in English [1], [2]. This study examines the relationship between pitch accent assignment and information status (IS), adopting the richer IS scheme of RefLex [3], in an intact sample of public speech from a TEDTalk. 361 words from the speech sample were annotated for IS specified in terms of referential, lexical, and alternative (focus) conditions. Results show different effects of referential vs. lexical givenness on accent assignment. Only referential givenness has the expected effect of given words being (mostly) unaccented. The TEDTalk speaker uses accent differently from what has been reported in prior work [4], with a much more variable distribution of accent across IS conditions, and an overall weaker probabilistic association between accent and IS. This study demonstrates the necessity of distinguishing lexical and referential givenness, and the effect of speech style on prosodic variability.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-103

Cite as: Im, S., Cole, J., Baumann, S. (2018) The probabilistic relationship between pitch accents and information status in public speech. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 508-511, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-103.


@inproceedings{Im2018,
  author={Suyeon Im and Jennifer Cole and Stefan Baumann},
  title={The probabilistic relationship between pitch accents and information status in public speech},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={508--511},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-103},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-103}
}