Speech Prosody 2002

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

Attitudinal Intonation and the Inferential Process

Anne Wichmann

Department of Cultural Studies, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK

The role of prosody in conveying affective meaning is complex. The complexity is reflected to some extent in the many labels used to describe ‘ways of speaking’ that could generally be described as affectively coloured. The search for prosodic correlates of emotional speech, however, is more successful for some labels than for others. I argue that some labels refer not to the affective prosody itself, but to the meanings implied by or inferred from utterances in a given interactional context. These meanings, particularly those suggestive of attitude or interpersonal stance, may, of course, arise in part from a perceived affective colouring of the voice such as sadness or anger. Some, on the other hand, may be generated by the strategic use of prosodic patterns that are not inherently ‘attitudinal’, but are in some way incongruent with the text or context, and set in train the process of interpretation of speaker meaning. The notion of incongruence, however, presupposes the notion of congruence, and I argue that if we are to fully understand the contribution of prosody to speaker meaning, the search for emotion in the voice should be complemented by the study of ‘normative’ use of prosody in interaction.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Wichmann, Anne (2002): "Attitudinal intonation and the inferential process", In SP-2002, 11-16.