5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Investigating the Syntactic Characteristics of English Tone Units

Alex Chengyu Fang (1), Jill House (2), Mark Huckvale (3)

(1) Department of Phonetics and Linguistics, University College London, UK
(2) Dept of Linguistics and Phonetics, University College London, UK
(3) Dept of Phonetics and Linguistics, University College London, UK

This paper describes an investigation into the correspondence between grammatical units and English tone units. Our first aim is to provide some statistics based on scripted read speech since past studies mainly dealt with spontaneous speech. The second aim is to investigate whether the clause structure is a reliable indication of the tone unit. We start with a description of the annotation of transcribed speech data selected from the Spoken English Corpus (SEC), which is tagged for detailed wordclass information with AUTASYS and then parsed for rich syntactic description with the Survey Parser. Prosodic annotations in SEC, including both major and minor tone unit boundaries, were then mapped onto the parse trees. We then present our observations of tone units in the light of the clause structure. The paper will demonstrate that there is an overall correspondence between the clause structure and the tone unit in the sense that tone units generally co-start with the clause and that they seldom occur at major clause element junctures.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Fang, Alex Chengyu / House, Jill / Huckvale, Mark (1998): "Investigating the syntactic characteristics of English tone units", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0273.