The prosody of a sentence (utterance) when it appears in a discourse context differs substantially from when it is uttered in isolation. This paper addresses why paragraph is a discourse unit and discourse prosody is an intrinsic part of naturally occurring speech. Higher level discourse information treats sentences, phrases and their lower level units as sub-units and layers over them; and realized in patterns of global prosody. A perception based multi-phrase discourse prosody hierarchy and a parallel multi-phrase associative template were proposed to test discourse prosodic modulations. Results from quantitative modeling of speech data show that output discourse prosody can be derived through multiple layers of higher level modulations. The seemingly random occurrence of lower level prosodic units such as intonation variations is, in fact, systematic. In summary, abundant traces of global prosody can be recovered from the speech signal and accounted for; their patterns could help facilitate better understanding of spoken language processing.
Bibliographic reference. Tseng, Chiu-yu (2010): "Beyond sentence prosody", In INTERSPEECH-2010, 20-29.