Speech Prosody 2008

Campinas, Brazil
May 6-9, 2008

The Native Language Influence on Perceptual Intrinsic Pitch: Crosslinguistic Data from German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish

Daniel Pape

ZAS (Centre for general linguistics), Berlin, Germany

It is generally acknowledged that Intrinsic Pitch differences are found for Germanic languages. In a previous study we could give evidence for a strong cross-linguistic difference when examining Intrinsic pitch for the Romance language Italian. To examine the possibility of a stable crosslinguistic difference, a perception experiment was designed to examine the existence of Intrinsic pitch in Romance languages in comparison to Germanic languages. Since Intrinsic pitch values were found with respect to differing musical education, the experiment was conducted separately for professional musicians on the one hand and non-musicians on the other hand.

Different response patterns were found when comparing the Germanic and the Romance languages: Nearly 50 % of the Spanish and Portuguese listener showed an insensitivity for the Intrinsic pitch task, i.e. they judged the pitch of the vowels mainly on the voice quality difference but not on the F0 difference. This insensitivity clearly classifies Intrinsic pitch as a language-specific phenomenon.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Pape, Daniel (2008): "The native language influence on perceptual intrinsic pitch: crosslinguistic data from German, Italian, portuguese, and Spanish", In SP-2008, 743-746.