5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Experiments on the Meaning of Two Pitch Accent Types: The 'Pointed Hat' Versus the Accent-lending Fall in Dutch

Johanneke Caspers

Phonetics Laboratory/Holland Institute of Generative Linguistics, The Netherlands

The aim of the present investigation is to find out more about the meaning of two Dutch melodic shapes: the default pitch accent or `pointed hat' and the accent-lending fall. Can the meaning difference between these pitch configurations be better described as a difference in information status or as a difference in attitude? Subjects were presented with the two contours on short sentences in specific contexts; the stimulus formed either the answer to a question (the focused information is new) or the completion of an enumeration (the focused information was already projected). In a pairwise comparison test subjects had to choose the contour best fitting the presented context. In a rating experiment subjects judged each combination of contour type and context on a number of semantic scales. Information status as well as attitude explain part of the results, indicating that both notions should be incorporated in the semantics of intonation.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Caspers, Johanneke (1998): "Experiments on the meaning of two pitch accent types: the 'pointed hat' versus the accent-lending fall in dutch", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0235.