11th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Makuhari, Chiba, Japan
September 26-30. 2010

What Do You Mean, You're Uncertain?: The Interpretation of Cue Words and Rising Intonation in Dialogue

Catherine Lai

University of Pennsylvania, USA

This paper investigates how rising intonation affects the interpretation of cue words in dialogue. Both cue words and rising intonation express a range of speaker attitudes like uncertainty and surprise. However, it is unclear how the perception of these attitudes relates to dialogue structure and belief co-ordination. Perception experiment results suggest that rises reflect difficulty integrating new information rather than signaling a lack of credibility. This leads to a general analysis of rising intonation as signaling that the current question under discussion is unresolved. However, the interaction with cue word semantics restricts how much their interpretation can vary with prosody.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Lai, Catherine (2010): "What do you mean, you're uncertain?: the interpretation of cue words and rising intonation in dialogue", In INTERSPEECH-2010, 1413-1416.