The role of pragmatics and politeness in explaining prosodic variability

Stella Gryllia, Mary Baltazani, Amalia Arvaniti


Twenty speakers (10F, 10M) took part in a discourse completion task (DCT) to examine effects of politeness and context on tunes used with wh-questions in Greek: they heard and saw on screen short scenarios ending in a wh-question. DCTs were controlled for power, solidarity, and context (with scenarios leading to the wh-questions being used either to request information or to indirectly make a statement). The results confirmed the role of context: the two context types led to the elicitation of distinct tunes, L*+H L- !H% for information-seeking questions, and L+H* L-L% for indirect statements, with lower scaling and later alignment of the accentual H in the former, and differences in final F0 consistent with a !H% and L% boundary tone respectively. In addition, questions after information contexts were shorter, but with a significantly longer final vowel. Politeness also affected duration, with conditions requiring a greater degree of politeness (the addressee being non-solidary and of different social status than the speaker) leading to lower speaking rate. The results indicate that tunes are associated with different durational profiles, which are also influenced by politeness. These results support recent studies showing that the study of intonation must include parameters beyond F0.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-32

Cite as: Gryllia, S., Baltazani, M., Arvaniti, A. (2018) The role of pragmatics and politeness in explaining prosodic variability. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 158-162, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-32.


@inproceedings{Gryllia2018,
  author={Stella Gryllia and Mary Baltazani and Amalia Arvaniti},
  title={The role of pragmatics and politeness in explaining prosodic variability},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={158--162},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-32},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-32}
}