10th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Brighton, United Kingdom
September 6-10, 2009

Perceiving Surprise on Cue Words: Prosody and Semantics Interact on Right and Really

Catherine Lai

University of Pennsylvania, USA

Cue words in dialogue have different interpretations depending context and prosody. This paper presents a corpus study and perception experiment investigating when prosody causes right and really to be perceived as questioning or expressing surprise. Pitch range is found to be the best cue for surprise. This extends to the question rating for really but not for right. In fact, prosody appears to interact with semantics so ratings differ for these two types of cue word even when prosodic features are similar. So, different semantics appears to result in different surprise/question rating thresholds.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Lai, Catherine (2009): "Perceiving surprise on cue words: prosody and semantics interact on right and really", In INTERSPEECH-2009, 1963-1966.