11th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Makuhari, Chiba, Japan
September 26-30. 2010

Cross-Cultural Investigation of Prosody in Verbal Feedback in Interactional Rapport

Gina-Anne Levow, Susan Duncan, Edward T. King

University of Chicago, USA

Aspects of speech and non-verbal behavior allow conversational partners to establish and maintain rapport by signaling engagement or endorsement. In the verbal channel, these factors encompass requests for and production of vocal feedback, as well as lexical and grammatical mirroring. However, these cues are often subtle and culture-specific. Here, we present a preliminary investigation of the differences in elicitation and provision of vocal feedback across three diverse language/cultural groups: American English, Gulf/Iraqi Arabic, and Mexican Spanish. Based on a fully-transcribed and aligned sub-corpus of 80 interactions, we identify fundamental contrasts in production of vocal feedback. We identify dramatic differences in the rates of listener verbal feedback across the groups. However, we find both similarities and differences in the use of prosodic cues across these groups. These differences will inform the development of culturally-sensitive conversational agents.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Levow, Gina-Anne / Duncan, Susan / King, Edward T. (2010): "Cross-cultural investigation of prosody in verbal feedback in interactional rapport", In INTERSPEECH-2010, 286-289.