Sixth International Conference on Spoken Language Processing
October 16-20, 2000
Universal and Language-Specific Effects in the Perception of Question Intonation
Carlos Gussenhoven, Aoju Chen
Centre for Language Studies, University of Nijmegen,
Three groups of monolingual listeners, with Standard Chinese,
Dutch and Hungarian as their native language, judged pairs of
trisyllabic stimuli which differed only in their pitch pattern. The
segmental structure of the stimuli was made up by the
experimenters and presented to subjects as being taken from a
little-known language spoken on a South Pacific island. Pitch
patterns consisted of a single rise-fall located on or near the
second syllable. By and large, listeners selected the stimulus
with the higher peak, the later peak, and the higher end rise as
the one that signalled a question, regardless of language group.
This result is argued to reflect innate, non-linguistic knowledge
of the meaning of pitch variation, notably Ohala’s Frequency
Code. A significant difference between groups is explained as
due to the influence of the mother tongue.
Gussenhoven, Carlos / Chen, Aoju (2000):
"Universal and language-specific effects in the perception of question intonation",
In ICSLP-2000, vol.2, 91-94.