12th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Florence, Italy
August 27-31. 2011

A Quantitative Investigation of the Prosody of Verum Focus in Italian

Giuseppina Turco (1), Michele Gubian (2), Jessamyn Schertz (2)

(1) MPI for Psycholinguistics, The Netherlands
(2) Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, The Netherlands

In this study we present a preliminary investigation of the prosodic marking of Verum focus (VF) in Italian, which is said to be realized with a pitch accent on the finite verb (e.g. A: Paul has not eaten the banana - B: (No), Paul HAS eaten the banana!). We tried to discover whether and how Italian speakers prosodically mark VF when producing full-fledged sentences using a semi-spontaneous production experiment on 27 speakers. Speech rate and f0 contours were extracted using automatic data processing tools and were subsequently analysed using Functional Data Analysis (FDA), which allowed for automatic visualization of patterns in the contour shapes. Our results show that the postfocal region of VF sentences exhibit faster speech rate and lower f0 compared to non-VF cases. However, an expected consistent difference of f0 effect on the focal region of the VF sentence was not found in this analysis.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Turco, Giuseppina / Gubian, Michele / Schertz, Jessamyn (2011): "A quantitative investigation of the prosody of verum focus in Italian", In INTERSPEECH-2011, 961-964.