SLTU-2008 - First International Workshop on Spoken Languages Technologies for Under-Resourced Languages

Hanoi, Vietnam
May 5-7, 2008

Prosody and Expressiveness Marking in Bàsàa Oral Discourse: The Case of Melisms (First results)

Emmanuel-Moselly Makasso

Laboratoire Parole et Langage, Université de Provence, France

Though prosody is studied since at least several decades, it is still unclear what kind of information about the speaker’s subjectivity and emotion is conveyed by prosody. This paper tries to focus on the role of prosody in marking speaker’s expressiveness in large Bàsàa spontaneous speech corpora. Following Caelen-Haumont & Bel 2000, this paper considers that prosodic organization is twofold: on one hand, it is related to the overall organization of phrasing at the group and sentence levels, that is namely the intonation structure; and on the other hand, it conveys information about the affective status and expressiveness of the speaker, that Caelen-Haumont et Bel (2000) termed melism. In this work the Bàsàa language is concerned. Bàsàà is a tone Bantu language spoken in Cameroon, which has never benefited from any study using automatic processing. A corpus of conversational speech from radiophonic interviews was collected. Such recordings, coming from spontaneous dialogues, were acoustically analyzed by means of the PRAAT software. Specifically, a script (Caelen–Haumont and Auran, 2004) was employed to automatically extract F0 information from large corpora, especially in high peaks. The term Melism, borrowed from the domain of singing, refers here to large or maximal excursions of F0 on words (lexical or grammatical), spreading at times over an entire word. Semantically and/or pragmatically speaking, melisms constitute clues for discourse interpretation and more precisely, for interpretation of the speaker’s communicative and informative intentions.

Index Terms: Prosody, oral discourse, expressiveness, melism

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Makasso, Emmanuel-Moselly (2008): "Prosody and expressiveness marking in Bàsàa oral discourse: the case of melisms (first results)", In SLTU-2008, 87-91.