5th European Conference on Speech Communication and Technology

Rhodes, Greece
September 22-25, 1997

A Contribution to the Estimation of Naturalness in the Intonation of Italian Spontaneous Speech

Mario Refice (l), Michelina Savino (1,2), Martine Grice (2)

(1) DEE - Politecnico di Bari, Italy
(2) Institut fuer Phonetik, University of the Saarland, Germany

This paper focusses on the intonation of yes-no questions in a local non-standard variety of Italian: that spoken in Bari. It has been claimed in any early study [7, 8] that Bari Italian (BI) has a fmal rise on yes-no questions. However, subsequent accounts of BI [5, 6] have found a predominance of fmal falls on such questions. Since the former study was based on a corpus read aloud and the latter on spontaneous dialogues, it was decided to compare read and spontaneous questions produced by the same speaker. Spontaneous questions by six speakers were extracted from recordings of task-oriented dialogues and presented for reading, both in list form and in specially contructed contexts. It was found that the fmal tonal contour was predominantly falling in the spontaneous questions and predominantly rising in the corresponding read questions. These results throw light on the discrepancy in the literature as to the typical yes-no question intonation for this variety of Italian. It is argued that the falling fmal contour is more natural than the rising one since it is typical of spontaneous speech.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Refice, Mario / Savino, Michelina / Grice, Martine (1997): "A contribution to the estimation of naturalness in the intonation of Italian spontaneous speech", In EUROSPEECH-1997, 783-786.