Speech Prosody 2002

Aix-en-Provence, France
April 11-13, 2002

Prosody and Emotions

Sylvie Mozziconacci

Phonetics Lab., Leiden University, The Netherlands

The investigation of emotional speech constitutes quite a multidisciplinary research field. In order to benefit from the mutual enrichment that might result from this interdisciplinarity, it seems important to clarify what the specific contribution of a particular field can be. In this paper, an attempt is made to shed light on the type of contribution proposed by the tradition of studies of prosody to studies of expression of emotion in speech. Methodological issues that might contribute to the fruitfulness of studies of expressive speech are discussed.

It is argued that the way intonation conveys emotion and attitude in speech is best studied when pitch variation is represented in the theoretical framework of a model of intonation. Using such a model structures and reduces the data, formalizes the description, facilitates control of parameters and generalization of results. The use of such a model has proven useful in the field of prosody, independently of its type. Moreover, such a context constitutes an opportunity to test the model’s adequacy for dealing with extreme variations such as those occurring in emotional speech. Another point is that complementary studies of production and perception are felt to be a necessary prerequisite for establishing the communicative significance of the investigated speech parameters. The need of a reference baseline in each experiment is also reminded. Furthermore, the need for drawing a distinction between the description of the global shape of the F0 curve, i.e., the type of pith contour, and the description of how this contour is concretely implemented in terms of pitch events is also discussed. Both the abstract phonological information on the type of contour, and the concrete phonetic information on the concrete pitch implementation of the F0 curve are pertinent. The investigation of type of pitch contour and detailed pitch implementation seems particularly promising when the experimental design is such as to allow the independent study of each effect, as well as their combined effect. This may lead us to make use of an orthogonal experimental design in the investigation of prosodic parameters. Finally, by considering how well existing assumptions about intonation account for its expressive functions, some light can be shed on the functionality of intonation for conveying meaningful information in speech communication.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Mozziconacci, Sylvie (2002): "Prosody and emotions", In SP-2002, 1-9.