Speech Prosody 2008

Campinas, Brazil
May 6-9, 2008

Duration and Intensity as Perceptual Cues for NaÔve Listenersí Prominence and Boundary Perception

Yoonsook Mo

Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA

I investigate the acoustic correlates of prosodic prominence and boundary, as they are perceived by naÔve listeners, in spontaneous speech from American English (Buckeye corpus). Prosodic prominence and phrasing serve different functions in speech communication: prosodic phrase boundaries demarcate speech chunks that typically cohere semantically, while prominences encode focus and possibly also rhythmic structure. The acoustic correlates of prominence and phrase boundary are examined through measures of vowel duration and overall intensity of stressed vowels, to see how those measures correlate, individually or in combination, with naÔve listenersí perception of prominence and boundary. The results show that most stressed vowels are lengthened in preboundary words (i.e., those final in the prosodic phrase). Prosodic prominence is also cued by increased duration, but in combination with higher overall intensity for some vowels. These acoustic differences associated with perceived prominence and boundary suggest different mechanisms underlying their production. This claim finds support from consideration of the different functions that prominence and boundary play in encoding information structure, and in speech production planning.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Mo, Yoonsook (2008): "Duration and intensity as perceptual cues for nave listeners≤ prominence and boundary perception", In SP-2008, 739-742.