Interspeech'2005 - Eurospeech

Lisbon, Portugal
September 4-8, 2005

Compound Rises and "Uptalk" in Spoken English

Janet Fletcher

University of Melbourne, Australia

"Uptalk" or the use of rising and high pitch at the end of statements is common in interactive discourse in Australian English. The distribution and discourse functions of complex and compound rising tunes were examined in a corpus of Australian English map task dialogues. Each utterance was analysed in terms of Dialogue acts (classified using DAMSL) and intonational tune. It was found that most terminal high rises were in fact part of split or compound fall-rises, and are not the same as yes/no question rises in English. There was also a strong correspondence between pitch range of the terminal elements and discourse function. For example, forward-looking communicative acts (e.g. those that influenced the upcoming discourse) usually corresponded to complex and compound fall rises that terminated at a high pitch level, whereas low range fall-rises (both complex and compound) were more likely to terminate backwards looking dialogue acts, i.e. those acts that referred to what had previously occurred in the discourse. These results support earlier claims that rising pitch in Australian English is used as a cooperative device in complex interactions. They further suggest that the entire tune of the intonational constituent needs to be taken into account, and not just the terminal element.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Fletcher, Janet (2005): "Compound rises and "uptalk" in spoken English", In INTERSPEECH-2005, 1381-1384.