Prosodic encoding of sarcasm at the sentence level in Dutch

Nelleke Jansen, Aoju Chen


This study investigated the prosodic characteristics of sarcastic speech in Dutch. Twenty native speakers of Dutch produced sentences in a sarcastic and sincere way in a simulated telephone conversation task. Prosodic analysis at the sentence-level shows that in Dutch sarcasm is characterised by a longer duration, lower intensity, and less vocal noise compared to sincere speech. Utterance type and speaker gender influence the use of pitch and duration to realise sarcasm: pitch is lowered in some utterance types but raised in others, and female speakers expand pitch span, while male speakers use greater durational differences. These findings can partly be explained by referring to an emphasis-based theory of sarcastic prosody, whereby speakers draw attention to what is said by using a slower speech rate and clearer voice, and a distancing hypothesis, whereby speakers lower the intensity and pitch to distance themselves from the lexical meaning of the utterance.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-84

Cite as: Jansen, N., Chen, A. (2020) Prosodic encoding of sarcasm at the sentence level in Dutch. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 409-413, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-84.


@inproceedings{Jansen2020,
  author={Nelleke Jansen and Aoju Chen},
  title={{Prosodic encoding of sarcasm at the sentence level in Dutch}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={409--413},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-84},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-84}
}