5th European Conference on Speech Communication and Technology

Rhodes, Greece
September 22-25, 1997

The Prosody of Broad and Narrow Focus in English: Two Experiments

Steve Hoskins

Applied Science and Engineering Laboratories University of Delaware/ A. I. duPont Institute, USA

In English, the focus of a sentence is an important factor in determining the prosody of an utterance. Some linguistic analyses of focus [9][10][11] claim that (1) prosodic representation of focus is determined by pitch accents, (2) the distribution of pitch accents is determined by the size of the focus constituent, and (3) one prosodic realization may be ambiguous for several focus constituents. In this study, two experiments were conducted to test the interaction of focus with certain structures: verb phrases and noun phrases. Duration and f0 measurements within these phrases were analyzed, and a prosodic analysis was conducted. Results show that speakers tend to distinguish broad and narrow focus using several prosodic strategies, where different pitch accent types and patterns within the phrases signal the different focus conditions.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hoskins, Steve (1997): "The prosody of broad and narrow focus in English: two experiments", In EUROSPEECH-1997, 791-794.