Speech Prosody 2006

Dresden, Germany
May 2-5, 2006

Emotional, Linguistic or Just Cute? The Function of Pitch Contours in Infant- and Foreigner-Directed Speech

Monja Knoll (1), Maria Uther (1), Norman MacLeod (2), Mark O’Neill (2), Stig Walsh (2)

(1) SAIL, Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK
(2) Department of Palaeontology, The Natural History Museum, London, UK

This study evaluated the relative functions of pitch contours in infant-directed speech (IDS) by comparing it with adult- (ADS) and foreigner-directed speech (FDS). The shape of pitch contours derived from target words in speech samples was analysed using two novel algorithmic methods and a standard qualitative approach. Our findings indicate that IDS is very distinct from ADS and FDS, whilst the latter two exhibit a strong similarity to each other. These results suggest that pitch contours in IDS serve an emotional-attentional function rather than a linguistic function.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Knoll, Monja / Uther, Maria / MacLeod, Norman / O’Neill, Mark / Walsh, Stig (2006): "Emotional, linguistic or just cute? the function of pitch contours in infant- and foreigner-directed speech", In SP-2006, paper 196.