How prosodic prominence influences fricative spectra in English

Jonathan Barnes, Alejna Brugos, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, Nanette Veilleux

Growing appreciation for non-F0 factors underpinning intonational contrasts has increased attention to interactions between tonal and segmental characteristics of the signal. In some languages, for example, fricatives in certain raised F0 contexts (e.g., final rises) have been shown to bear increased high frequency energy relative to comparable fricatives in low-F0 contexts (Niebuhr’s [2009] “segmental intonation”). One approach to this pattern holds that energy peaks during voiceless fricative noise serve as perceptual proxies for the interrupted F0 contour. Speakers actively manipulate fricative spectra to mirror local F0, enhancing tonal contrasts. Results from a study of English fricatives in a variety of metrical and tonal contexts, however, suggest a different explanation: changes in fricative spectral balance are correlated not with local F0, but with intensity of frication noise. Increased “vocal effort” is known to yield both more intense frication noise, and enhanced high-frequency energy, pushing spectral center-of-gravity upward (Shadle & Mair 1996). Subglottal pressure differences under rising and falling pitch in final syllables may affect fricatives similarly (Roessig & Roettger 2014), supporting fricative spectral balance as a cue not to raised F0, but to increased vocal effort, which, though sometimes correlated with higher F0, does not integrate with it directly.

 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-38

Cite as: Barnes, J., Brugos, A., Shattuck-Hufnagel, S., Veilleux, N. (2020) How prosodic prominence influences fricative spectra in English. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 186-190, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-38.

  author={Jonathan Barnes and Alejna Brugos and Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel and Nanette Veilleux},
  title={{How prosodic prominence influences fricative spectra in English}},
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},