Speech Prosody 2004

Nara, Japan
March 23-26, 2004

Phonetic Dimensions of Intonational Categories - the case of L+H* and H*

Sasha Calhoun

Centre for Speech Technology Research, University of Edinburgh, UK

ToBI, in its conception, was an attempt to describe intonation in terms of phonological categories. An effect of the success of ToBI in doing this has been to make it standard to try to characterise all intonational phonological distinctions in terms of ToBI distinctions, i.e. segmental alignment of pitch targets and pitch height as either High or Low. Here we report a series of experiments which attempted to do this, linking two supposed phonological categories, theme and rheme accents, to two controversial ToBI pitch accents L+H* and H* respectively. Our results suggest a reanalysis of the dimensions of phonological intonational distinctions. It is suggested that there are three layers affecting the intonational contour: global extrinsic, local extrinsic and intrinsic; and the theme-rheme distinction may lie in the local extrinsic layer. It is the similarity both of the phonetic effects and the semantic information conveyed by the last two layers that has led to the confusion in results such as those reported here.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Calhoun, Sasha (2004): "Phonetic dimensions of intonational categories - the case of l+h* and h*", In SP-2004, 103-106.