Speech Prosody 2002

Aix-en-Provence, France
April 11-13, 2002

Variation Adds to Prosodic Typology

Esther Grabe

Phonetics Laboratory, University of Oxford, UK

Variation has not been a major concern of prosodic typologists. Frequently, it is treated as noise in the data and held to conceal what is really important about the prosodic structure of the language. Consequently, most investigations are restricted to a single standard variety and cross-speaker variation is ignored or masked by statistical processing. The results are often assumed to be representative of the language as a whole. Recent research challenges this approach. Acoustic correlates of rhythm class, for instance, show that dialects of one language can differ as much in their rhythmic structures as two different languages. One dialect can be classified as ‘stress-timed’ and the other as ‘syllable-timed’. Furthermore, considerable cross-speaker variation occurs within dialects. In this paper, I review a selection of data on prosodic variation across dialects and speakers. Then I present data on intonational variation. Examination of cross-speaker and cross-dialect variation in these data leads to new results on dialect-specific characteristics of intonation as well as to cross-dialect and cross-language generalisations.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Grabe, Esther (2002): "Variation adds to prosodic typology", In SP-2002, 127-132.