Speech Prosody 2004

Nara, Japan
March 23-26, 2004

On the Temporal Domain of Focus

Yi Xu (1), Ching X. Xu (2), Xuejing Sun (3)

(1) Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, CT, USA
(2) Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA
(3) Panasonic Speech Technology Labratory, Santa Barbara, CA, USA

It is well known that focus affects the pitch of what is being focused. It is much less recognized, however, that focus also extensively affects the pitch ranges of non-focused regions in a sentence. In this paper we show evidence that the temporal domain of focus is much wider than has been generally recognized. We present acoustic, perceptual, and imitational data demonstrating that, in a declarative sentence, focus is realized not only by expanding the pitch range of the focused item, but also by compressing the pitch range of post-focus items, and possibly requiring that the pitch range of pre-focus items remain neutral. We conclude that the domain of a single, narrow focus consists of three temporal zones, with distinct pitch range adjustment for each. These pitch range specifications therefore should be treated as attributes of the focus itself rather than as anything else.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Xu, Yi / Xu, Ching X. / Sun, Xuejing (2004): "On the temporal domain of focus", In SP-2004, 81-84.