Third International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP 94)

Yokohama, Japan
September 18-22, 1994

Global Pitch Range and the Production of Low Tones in English Intonation

Donna Erickson (1), Kiyoshi Honda (2), Hiroyuki Hirai (2), Mary E. Beckman (3), Seiji Niimi (4)

(1) Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
(2) ATR Human Information Processing Research Laboratories, Kyoto, Japan
(3) Department of Linguistics, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
(4) Research Institute of Logopedics & Phoniatrics, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

In addition to the well-studied high (H) targets, such as the H* peak accent in many declarative sentence, English intonation contours also include many low (L) tones, such as the L* target on the most stressed syllable in a canonical yes-no question contour. To understand better the behavior of such tone targets, we recorded three native speakers of English as they produced sentences containing various L types in soft, normal, and loud voice. For two speakers, we recorded activity from the infrahyoid strap muscles (SH), and for the third we recorded subglottal pressure (Ps). Results showed consistent variation in minimum fundamental frequency (F0) values associated with the L tone, and also consistent variation across the global pitch ranges for the three voice effort levels. Within a given pitch range, the level of associated SH activity was inversely correlated with the F0 value, but the correlation overall was less good because there is no overall variation in the SH level corresponding to the global range variation. Correlation improved when SH values for loud tokens were adjusted downward and those for soft tokens adjusted upward. The pattern of Ps values for the third speaker suggests an explanation. There were large differences in Ps value across the pitch ranges, against which speakers may adjust their SH activity to maintain a constant target F0.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Erickson, Donna / Honda, Kiyoshi / Hirai, Hiroyuki / Beckman, Mary E. / Niimi, Seiji (1994): "Global pitch range and the production of low tones in English intonation", In ICSLP-1994, 651-654.