ISCA Archive SpeechProsody 2022
ISCA Archive SpeechProsody 2022

Two Pragmatic Functions of Breathy Voice in American English Conversation

Nigel Ward, Ambika Kirkland, Marcin Wlodarczak, Éva Székely

Although the paralinguistic and phonological significance of breathy voice is well known, its pragmatic roles have been little studied. We report a systematic exploration of the pragmatic functions of breathy voice in American English, using a small corpus of casual conversations, using the Cepstral Peak Prominence Smoothed measure as an indicator of breathy voice, and using a common workflow to find prosodic constructions and identify their meanings. We found two prosodic constructions involving breathy voice. The first involves a short region of breathy voice in the midst of a region of low pitch, functioning to mark self-directed speech. The second involves breathy voice over several seconds, combined with a moment of wider pitch range leading to a high pitch over about a second, functioning to mark an attempt to establish common ground. These interpretations were confirmed by a perception experiment.


doi: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-17

Cite as: Ward, N., Kirkland, A., Wlodarczak, M., Székely, É. (2022) Two Pragmatic Functions of Breathy Voice in American English Conversation. Proc. Speech Prosody 2022, 82-86, doi: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-17

@inproceedings{ward22_speechprosody,
  author={Nigel Ward and Ambika Kirkland and Marcin Wlodarczak and Éva Székely},
  title={{Two Pragmatic Functions of Breathy Voice in American English Conversation}},
  year=2022,
  booktitle={Proc. Speech Prosody 2022},
  pages={82--86},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2022-17}
}