8th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Antwerp, Belgium
August 27-31, 2007

Prosody, Emotions, and… ‘whatever’

Stefan Benus (1), Agustín Gravano (2), Julia Hirschberg (2)

(1) Brown University, USA
(2) Columbia University, USA

We examine the role of prosody in cueing a scale of negative meanings associated with the use of whatever. The analysis of a corpus of elicited examples shows that the more negative the token, the more likely it is to have an additional pitch accent, extended duration, and expanded pitch range on the first syllable. These findings are analyzed as a link between pragmatic meaning and the strength of the prosodic boundary between the first two syllables ( what#ever). The results of perception experiments show that the prosody of whatever itself is a systematic cue for the degree of negative connotation associated with the utterance in which whatever occurs. Potential applications of this result for spoken dialogue systems and synthesis of emotional speech are discussed.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Benus, Stefan / Gravano, Agustín / Hirschberg, Julia (2007): "Prosody, emotions, and… ‘whatever’", In INTERSPEECH-2007, 2629-2632.