Scaling of Final Rises in German Questions and Statements

Jan Michalsky

Although certain intonation contours occur more frequently with German questions than with German statements, there is evidence that the semantics of intonational phonology operates on a more abstract level [1][2][3][4]. Hence, it is unlikely that there are pitch patterns in German that are exclusively used in interrogatives. Rather, intonational signaling of interrogativity can be regarded as resulting from the interaction between tonal and phonetic features. The tonal structure provides abstract semantic features, which are modified by paralinguistic features through phonetic realization [5]. This paper deals with the question which phonetic features may serve as cues to interrogativity in German. We report a reading task that was designed to elicit utterances that have phonologically identical nuclear rising pitch contours but differed by pragmatic function, serving either as a question or a statement. The observed absolute and relative scaling of nuclear and prenuclear tonal targets suggests that questions differ from statements by larger f0 excursions of nuclear rising contours, whereas the scaling of prenuclear accents does not substantially contribute to the expression of interrogativity. We conclude that phonetic cues to interrogativity in German are mainly realized through scaling and are restricted to the nuclear part of the intonational phrase.

 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2014-184

Cite as: Michalsky, J. (2014) Scaling of Final Rises in German Questions and Statements. Proc. 7th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2014, 978-982, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2014-184.

  author={Jan Michalsky},
  title={{Scaling of Final Rises in German Questions and Statements}},
  booktitle={Proc. 7th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2014},