ToBI Representations in Intonational Phonology: Time for a (melodic) change?

Philippe Martin


The ToBI notation system has been the dominant transcription system used in the Autosegmental-Metrical framework. This system, among other drawbacks, doesn’t really integrate listener tone perception, neither gives a clear account of the prosodic structure function in the sentence. It mixes frequently phonology and phonetics by being too close to the fundamental frequency curves obtained by acoustic analysis. Therefore, an alternate phonological representation of sentence intonation should address the following points: 1. Instead of using ToBI High and Low tone targets, the perception of melodic variations could be better approximated using the rate of melodic change (glissando). This would allow to differentiate pitch changes which are perceived from those which are not. 2. Allowing accent phrases pitch accents to interact would allow to give a proper account for the incremental temporal aspect of the prosodic structure generated by the speaker, which does not result from some global mechanism involving the whole sentence at once. This leads to consider pitch accents as markers of dependency relations between accent phrases. Describing accent phrases pitch accents as melodic contours reveals them as markers of AP’s hierarchical sub-structures inside IP’s ended by complex melodic contours merging pitch accent and boundary tone.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-37

Cite as: Martin, P. (2020) ToBI Representations in Intonational Phonology: Time for a (melodic) change?. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 181-185, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-37.


@inproceedings{Martin2020,
  author={Philippe Martin},
  title={{ToBI Representations in Intonational Phonology: Time for a (melodic) change?}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={181--185},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-37},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-37}
}