The contribution of pitch accents and boundary tones to intonation meaning

Amalia Arvaniti, Mary Baltazani, Stella Gryllia


Greek questions are typically uttered with one of two tunes, autosegmentally represented as L*+H L-!H% and L+H* L-L%. Questions with the former tune are interpreted as information-seeking; questions with the latter may be interpreted as both information- and non-information seeking, carrying implicatures of a negative type. Since the tunes differ in both pitch accent and boundary tone, we conducted two experiments to test the pragmatic contribution of each: participants (82 in Exp1; 75 in Exp2 testing boundary tones) heard questions in which the stretch with either the boundary tone (Exp1) or the pitch accent (Exp2) was high-pass filtered and attenuated to remove F0 information; they had to bet 0-100 euros on the most likely utterance to follow the question, choosing between two follow-ups that indicated the pragmatic intent to be information- or non-information-seeking. Bets on follow-ups indicating information-seeking were expected to be higher after questions with a L*+H pitch accent (Exp1), or a !H% boundary tone (Exp2). The results show that both pitch accents and boundary tones made pragmatic contributions and affected responses (i.e. strength of bets), thereby supporting the view that intonation meaning is compositional and nuclear tunes are not processed as a whole.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-73

Cite as: Arvaniti, A., Baltazani, M., Gryllia, S. (2020) The contribution of pitch accents and boundary tones to intonation meaning. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 356-360, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-73.


@inproceedings{Arvaniti2020,
  author={Amalia Arvaniti and Mary Baltazani and Stella Gryllia},
  title={{The contribution of pitch accents and boundary tones to intonation meaning}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={356--360},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-73},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-73}
}