5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Reconciling Two Competing Views on Contrastiveness

Emiel Krahmer, Marc Swerts

IPO, Center for Research on User-System Interaction, The Netherlands

Some people claim that contrastive accents are more emphatic than newness accents and have a different melodic shape. Others, however, maintain that contrastiveness can only be determined by looking at how accents are distributed in an utterance. In this paper it is argued that these two competing views can be reconciled by showing that they apply on different levels. To this end, accent patterns were obtained via a dialogue game (Dutch) in which two participants had to describe coloured figures in consecutive turns. Target descriptions (``blue square") were collected in four contexts: no contrast (all new), contrast in the adjective, contrast in the noun, all contrast. A distributional analysis revealed that both all new and all contrast situations correspond with double accents, whereas single accents on the adjective or the noun are used when these are contrastive. Single contrastive accents on the adjective are acoustically different from newness accents in the same syntactic position. The former have the shape of a `nuclear' accent, whereas the newness accents on the adjective are `prenuclear'. Contrastive accents stand out as perceptually more prominent than newness accents. This difference in salience tends to disappear if the accented word is heard in isolation.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Krahmer, Emiel / Swerts, Marc (1998): "Reconciling two competing views on contrastiveness", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0270.