Third International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP 94)

Yokohama, Japan
September 18-22, 1994

A Prosodic Analysis of Three Sentence Types with "WH" Words in Korean

Sun-Ah Jun (1), Mira Oh (2)

(1) Linguistics Department, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA
(2) English Department, Yeojoo Technical College, Kyunggi-do, Korea

"Wh" words in Korean have two interpretations: either as wh-pronouns as in a wh-question or as indefinite pronouns as in a yes/no-question. The lexical ambiguity of a wh-word has been impressionistically noted to be differentiated by prosodic features. In this paper, we investigate which prosodic features, such as pitch range and accentual phrasing, differentiate these two usages, both in production and perception. We additionally investigate a third usage involving incredulity. Production data show that the three question types are distinguished by boundary tones, pitch ranges and accentual phrasing. Yes/no questions and other types are distinguished by different accentual phrasing. Incredulity and wh-questions are in general distinguished by different peak amplitudes and pitch ranges, in addition to a boundary tone. Interestingly, not all speakers use the same strategy to distinguish incredulity and wh-questions. The results of the perception test show that subjects often confused incredulity questions with wh-questions, suggesting that accentual phrasing is a stronger perceptual cue than pitch range or amplitude difference.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Jun, Sun-Ah / Oh, Mira (1994): "A prosodic analysis of three sentence types with "WH" words in Korean", In ICSLP-1994, 323-326.