Speech Prosody 2008

Campinas, Brazil
May 6-9, 2008

A Methodological Study into the Linguistic Dimensions of Pitch Range Differences between German and English

Ineke Mennen (1), Felix Schaeffler (2), Gerard Docherty (3)

(1) Centre for Research on Bilingualism, University of Wales, Bangor, UK
(2) Speech Science Research Centre, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK
(3) School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences, Newcastle University, UK

The aim of this paper is to develop the methodology that would allow us to investigate the nature of variability in pitch range across speakers of different languages. In particular, we wanted to investigate whether by using linguistically based pitch range measures, such as those proposed by [1-3], we are able to characterise differences in pitch range across languages. We investigated Southern Standard British English (SSBE) and Northern Standard German (NSG), as it is often assumed that speakers of SSBE have a wider pitch range than speakers of NSG [4]. Using the linguistic measures suggested by [3], we found no such differences between NSG and SSBE, although a difference in the predicted direction was found with another linguistically based measure. Our study highlights the difficulty of using the previously suggested linguistic measures for cross-language comparisons, as some tonal structures are not equally distributed across the two languages. We therefore suggest that more suitable linguistic measures of pitch range may need to take the tonal distribution in the different languages into account.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Mennen, Ineke / Schaeffler, Felix / Docherty, Gerard (2008): "A methodological study into the linguistic dimensions of pitch range differences between German and English", In SP-2008, 527-530.