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LINGUIST List 16.2951

Wed Oct 12 2005

Diss: Phonetics/Phonology: Carmichael: 'Situation-Ba...'

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        1.    Lesley Carmichael, Situation-Based Intonation Pattern Distribution in a Corpus of American English

Message 1: Situation-Based Intonation Pattern Distribution in a Corpus of American English
Date: 09-Oct-2005
From: Lesley Carmichael <luxelifegmail.com>
Subject: Situation-Based Intonation Pattern Distribution in a Corpus of American English

Institution: University of Washington
Program: Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Lesley Carmichael

Dissertation Title: Situation-Based Intonation Pattern Distribution in a Corpus of American English

Dissertation URL: http://students.washington.edu/lesley

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Dissertation Director:
Emily Menon Bender
Alicia Beckford Wassink
Richard A. Wright

Dissertation Abstract:

Intonation varies considerably in spoken language, making it difficult to
characterize consistently and thoroughly. It is equally difficult to
generate contextually appropriate intonation for synthetic speech. This
dissertation examines intonational variation in different speech situations
and demonstrates that the distributions of intonation features and patterns
vary systematically with the situational context, or register domain.

More than 9,000 utterances were annotated with ToBI labels indicating pitch
accents, intermediate phrases, and boundary tones. The distributional
characteristics of eight intonation variables were analyzed for systematic
variation corresponding to register domain.
1. Boundary tone
2. Initial pitch accent tone
3. Simple vs. complex initial pitch accent
4. Pitch frame
5. Phrase offset contour
6. Pitch accent quantity
7. Intermediate phrase quantity
8. Tone contour type and token

The register domains were evaluated as a group and in pairs on each
intonational measure. A significant effect for register was found for every
measure at the group level and in more than half of the register domain
pairs. These results confirm for intonation what has already been
demonstrated through analyses of lexical and grammatical characteristics of
other aspects of language: a register is distinguished by a constellation
of features and their relative distributions.

One important result is the lack of persistent similarities or differences
between register domains. Some register domains systematically differed
along several or all dimensions while others behaved similarly along some
dimensions and diverged on others. There appears to be no single continuum
along which registers can be arranged to explain their complex
interrelationships. This last result has implications for orienting the
speaking situations themselves and suggests that they are as
multidimensional as the linguistic features that characterize them. Another
noteworthy finding was evidence of tone selection dependencies at different
levels of the corpus. Some dependencies were observed throughout the corpus
while others appeared to operate within particular register domains.

The results of this study overall suggest that a general model of
intonation probably glosses over a range of significant situation-based
intonational behavior. Fortifying existing (text-based) multidimensional
analyses with prosodic features will sharpen our understanding of the
relationship between linguistic variability and situational factors.

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