Sixth International Conference on Spoken Language Processing
October 16-20, 2000
Melodic Characteristics of Backchannels in Dutch Map Task Dialogues
Phonetics Laboratory/Holland Institute of Generative Linguistics,
Leiden, The Netherlands
In natural conversation backchannels (short optional utterances
like ‘uh-huh’ or ‘yes’) are used to indicate to the current
speaker that the current listener understands so far and that the
speaker may continue. The question posed in the present paper
is whether backchannels distinguish themselves melodically
from lexically identical utterances that have a different function
(e.g., the answer to a question). In a corpus of Dutch Map
Task dialogues the melodic configurations realized on all
backchannels and all lexically identical non-backchannels were
transcribed using ToDI . Comparison of the two groups of
data reveal a clear tendency for backchannels to be marked by
a non-prominence lending drop in pitch followed by a high
boundary tone (69%), whereas the non-backchannels generally
carry a pitch accent (61%).
- Gussenhoven, C., Rietveld, T. and Terken, J., "ToDI,
Transcription of Dutch Intonation", http://lands.let.kun.nl/todi/, 1999.
Caspers, Johanneke (2000):
"Melodic characteristics of backchannels in Dutch map task dialogues",
In ICSLP-2000, vol.2, 611-614.