Speech Prosody 2004

Nara, Japan
March 23-26, 2004

F0 Peaks and Valleys Aligned with Non-Prominent Syllables Can Influence Perceived Prominence in Adjacent Syllables

Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel (1), Laura Dilley (1), Nanette Veilleux (2), Alejna Brugos (3), Rob Speer (1)

(1) Speech Group, RLE Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
(2) Computer Science Department, Simmons College. Boston, MA, USA
(3) Boston University, Boston, MA, USA

The occurrence of peaks and valleys of the F0 contour of an utterance on non-prominent syllables in American English (as on the -ing or a- in reading again) raise the question of how to label these inflection points. Analysis of samples from prosodically-labelled corpora of natural speech*(MIT Maptask and BU FM Radio News) show that H* !H* sequences with an f0 peak on a weak syllable between them can occur quite commonly in continuous communicative speech. Informal listening suggests that the alignment of these f0 peaks with specific non-prominent syllables between the two accented syllables can change the perceived relative prominences of the accents. This observation is supported by results of perceptual experiments using synthesized F0 contours: the location of the peak in the weak syllable can shift the perceived strongest prominence from the initial syllable to the final syllable of a word like lemonade or millionaire. These findings illustrate the pervasiveness of F0 inflection points that are not aligned with syllables perceived as prominent, and suggest that alignment of the inflection point is a critical aspect of the specification of an intonational contour.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Shattuck-Hufnagel, Stefanie / Dilley, Laura / Veilleux, Nanette / Brugos, Alejna / Speer, Rob (2004): "F0 peaks and valleys aligned with non-prominent syllables can influence perceived prominence in adjacent syllables", In SP-2004, 705-708.