4th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Philadelphia, PA, USA
October 3-6, 1996

Intonational Cues to Discourse Structure in Japanese

Jennifer J. Venditti (1), Marc Swerts (2)

(1) Linguistics, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
(2) Institute for Perception Research (IPO), Eindhoven, The Netherlands

This study examines the extent to which intonation plays a role in the structuring of information in a Japanese monologue. The role of pitch accent in the intonational system of Japanese is very different from that in languages like Dutch or English: in Japanese, pitch accent is a lexical property of words and cannot be used to lend prominence to words at the sentence level. Therefore, we wondered if (and how) intonation can cue discourse structure in Japanese, comparable to how it is being used in Dutch and English. Results show that fundamental frequency (F0), amplitude, and duration of the final accents in each sentence did not serve to cue the boundaries of discourse segments, contrary to our expectation. However, pitch range variations on NPs, examined in terms of their position in a discourse segment and their information status, did show a correlation with discourse structure.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Venditti, Jennifer J. / Swerts, Marc (1996): "Intonational cues to discourse structure in Japanese", In ICSLP-1996, 725-728.