Talk at Speech Prosody 7: Segmental Influences on the Perception of Pitch Accent Scaling in English

Jonathan Barnes, Alejna Brugos, Nanette Veilleux & Stefanie Shattuck Hufnagel. (2014) “Segmental Influences on the Perception of Pitch Accent Scaling in English.” In Proceedings of Speech Prosody 7, Campbell, Gibbon, and Hirst (eds.), pp. 1125-1129.

Full paper: [pdf (4.8 mb)]

In both tone and intonation systems, segmental context is known to influence production and perception of target F0 contours in various ways. Many languages, for example, prefer to realize critical F0 events during maximally sonorous intervals, either by varying the timing of pitch movements, or by virtue of distributional limitations on certain contour types. Current analytic practice, by contrast, routinely ig- nores segmental backdrop when estimating the perceptual efficacy of putative cues, such as F0 turning points, to tone scaling and timing patterns. Results of the perception study presented here argue that pitch accent scaling is best modeled using a weighted average of F0 sampled over a defined region of interest, and that individual sample weights are determined in part by the sonority of the segments from which they are taken. That is, samples from lower sonority segments contribute less to integrated scaling percepts than those from higher sonority segments. This model, called TCoG-F(requency), accounts for crosslinguistic tonal timing and distribution patterns in the literature, and underscores the danger of analyzing tonal phenomena completely apart from the segments that express them.

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