Voiceless intervals and perceptual completion in F0 contours: Evidence from scaling perception in American English

Paper from the special session at ICPhS XVII, “Shapes and Tones – Towards a More Holistic Perspective in Intonation Research”:
Jonathan Barnes, Alejna Brugos, Nanette Veilleux & Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel. (2011). Voiceless Intervals and Perceptual Completion in F0 Contours: Evidence from Scaling Perception in American English. ICPhS 17, Hong Kong. [pdf]

Intonation models describing F0 alignment and scaling in terms of peak and valley localization can face challenges when F0 contours are interrupted (e.g., during voiceless segments). It is often assumed that some form of perceptual completion or “filling in” of such intervals occurs that resolves these issues. This study uses the perceived scaling of High pitch accents both with and without missing peaks due to F0 gaps to adjudicate between three possible accounts of how speakers treat missing F0 in intonation perception. Results provide strong evidence against both extrapolation and interpolation across the missing region, supporting instead the hypothesis that listeners simply ignore these regions. This suggests that a non-turning-point-based model, such as TCoG, should be considered as an alternative to standard target-and-interpolation models.

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