ISCA Archive SpeechProsody 2022
ISCA Archive SpeechProsody 2022

Short-Term Periodicity of Prosodic Phrasing: Corpus-based Evidence

Sabrina Stehwien, Lars Meyer

Speech is perceived a sequence of meaningful units of various lengths, from phones to phrases. Prosody is one of the means by which these are segmented: Prosodic boundaries subdivide utterances into prosodic phrases. In this corpus study, we study prosodic boundaries from a neurolinguistic perspective. To be perceived correctly, prosodic phrases must obey neurobiological constraints In particular, electrophysiological processing has been argued to operate periodically, with one electrophysiological processing cycle being devoted to the processing of exactly one prosodic phrase. We thus hypothesized that prosodic phrases as such should show periodicity. We assess the DIRNDL corpus of German radio news, which has been annotated for intonational and intermediate phrases. We find that sequences of 2--5 intermediate phrases are periodic at 0.8--1.6 Hertz within their superordinate intonation phrase. Across utterances, the duration of intermediate phrases alternates with the duration of superordinate intonation phrases, indicating a dependence of prosodic time scales. While the determinants of periodicity are unknown, the results are compatible with an association between periodic electrophysiological processing mechanisms and the rhythm of prosody. This contributes to closing the gap between the the neurobiology of language and linguistic description.


doi: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-141

Cite as: Stehwien, S., Meyer, L. (2022) Short-Term Periodicity of Prosodic Phrasing: Corpus-based Evidence. Proc. Speech Prosody 2022, 693-698, doi: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-141

@inproceedings{stehwien22_speechprosody,
  author={Sabrina Stehwien and Lars Meyer},
  title={{Short-Term Periodicity of Prosodic Phrasing: Corpus-based Evidence}},
  year=2022,
  booktitle={Proc. Speech Prosody 2022},
  pages={693--698},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-141}
}