12th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Florence, Italy
August 27-31. 2011

A Study on the Perception of Tone and Intonation in Sesotho

Hansjörg Mixdorff (1), Lehlohonolo Mohasi (2), 'Malillo Machobane (3), Thomas Niesler (2)

(1) Beuth Hochschule für Technik Berlin, Germany
(2) University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
(3) National University of Lesotho, Lesotho

This paper presents a study on the perception of Sesotho, a Southern African tonal language, employing a set of recorded minimal pairs, whose F0 contours were analyzed in a previous study using the Fujisaki model and resynthesized. Sequences of prosodically modified stimuli were produced to examine the effect of these modifications on word identification, statement/question distinction, as well as focus identification. With few exceptions, results regarding word identification are in line with our expectations. F0 modifications even seem to override vowel differences between words when both affect its meaning. With respect to the statement/ question distinction, shortening of the penultimate syllable, higher speech rate and increased phrase command magnitude Ap all increase the probability of an utterance to be perceived as a question. The focus experiment, however, produced inconclusive results, possibly due to its complex setting.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Mixdorff, Hansjörg / Mohasi, Lehlohonolo / Machobane, 'Malillo / Niesler, Thomas (2011): "A study on the perception of tone and intonation in Sesotho", In INTERSPEECH-2011, 3181-3184.