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LINGUIST List 18.70

Wed Jan 10 2007

Diss: Phonetics: Anufryk: 'Individual Variation in the Structure an...'

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        1.    Olga Anufryk, Individual Variation in the Structure and Distribution of Intonation Contours

Message 1: Individual Variation in the Structure and Distribution of Intonation Contours
Date: 10-Jan-2007
From: Olga Anufryk <olga_anufrikhotmail.com>
Subject: Individual Variation in the Structure and Distribution of Intonation Contours

Institution: Minsk State Linguistic University
Program: Germanic Languages (English)
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Olga Anufryk

Dissertation Title: Individual Variation in the Structure and Distribution of Intonation Contours

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Elena Karnevskaya

Dissertation Abstract:

The prerequisite for conducting a research on the problem of individual
variation in the structure and distribution of intonation contours was the
insufficient knowledge about the given aspect of prosodic variation. It is
apparent that without regard to individual variation, an integral picture
of how prosodic language units function in speech cannot be disclosed.

The aim of the present research consisted in investigating individual
variation of intonation contours in two aspects: inter-individual
(cross-speaker) and intra-individual (intra-speaker).

The object of research were tonal characteristics of utterances relating to
various types of speech acts. The immediate experimental material was made
up of over 2000 utterances read by two male speakers, carriers of the
Southern English pronunciation norm.

The hypothesis of the investigation postulated the following: it is only
possible to speak of the status of prosodic variants as equivalent /
inequivalent when all linguistic factors are graded.

The research resulted in obtaining statistically reliable data on
intonation contour variation in its cross-speaker and intra-speaker aspects.

The main criterion for evaluating individual variation on the level of form
are the acoustic realizations of the same pitch variant of a kinetic tone.
In the given respect a considerably high degree of variation of all pitch
types under analysis was revealed, in both the intra-individual and
inter-individual aspects and with regard to base frequency change
configuration and zonal markers (base frequency levels within a certain
pitch zone). Only such individual realizations can be considered absolutely
equal, as they do not incur any meaningful shifts, though they may
influence the impression of a speaker's discourse to a certain extent, thus
adding extra nuances of greater \ lesser mildness \ sharpness, confidence \
uncertainty, should the speaker consistently prefer a certain configuration
of base frequency change.

From the functional perspective, the intra-individual variation is
manifested through the employment of different melodic types as synonymous
in the same contexts. The course of investigation set forth, therefore,
that the existence of a certain basic inventory of intonation contours is
proper to each speaker, which he or she may vary in order to realize the
communicative intention. The outlined basic inventory may include 7-8 tonal
units, one of which is the dominant, i.e. the most frequently used and
widely distributed contour. Speakers also differ in their degree of contour
variation, as well as the relative evenness \ unevenness of basic prosodic
unit distribution.

While investigating individual functional variation in its cross-speaker
aspect, it was possible to point out the following: about 40 % of the total
number of contours completely concurred in their structural and
distributional characteristics. Consequently, the context imposes
considerable limitations on the way it can be interpreted by speakers, and,
therefore, on the choice of intonation contours. Nevertheless more than
half of the contours did not agree in the employment plane, i.e. in the
correspondence to the syntactic, communicative, and/or positional
characteristics of syntagms and utterances. This attests to a considerable
degree of freedom when selecting prosodic means in reading aloud.

It should be noted in conclusion that an individual difference does not
disturb the general language tendencies, as all the individual variants are
normative and only add fine nuances to the semantics of prosody and speech
in general. And they can thereby serve as an additional means of a person's
speech identification and the creation of his or her individual speech

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