2nd Workshop on Spoken Language Technologies for Under-Resourced Languages

Universiti Sains, Penang, Malaysia
May 3-5, 2010

From Tone to Pitch in Sepedi

Etienne Barnard (1), Sabine Zerbian (2)

(1) Human Language Technologies Research Group, Meraka Institute, CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa
(2) Department of Linguistics, University of Potsdam, Germany

We investigate the acoustic realization of tone in continuous utterances in Sepedi (a language in the Southern Bantu family). Human labelers marked each of the 271 syllables in a 15-sentence corpus produced by a single speaker as "high" or "low". Automatic pitch extraction was then used to estimate the fundamental frequencies of the voiced segments of each of these syllables. Statistical analysis of the resulting pitch contours confirms that the mean pitch frequencies of the syllabic nuclei serve as the primary indicator of tone, with the relative frequencies of successive syllables being the most relevant measure. Our analysis also suggests that additional factors may play a role in the production and perception of tone.

Index Terms: Tone languages, pitch contours, Sepedi, Southern Bantu

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Barnard, Etienne / Zerbian, Sabine (2010): "From tone to pitch in Sepedi", In SLTU-2010, 29-34.