14thAnnual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Lyon, France
August 25-29, 2013

Intonational Contrasts Encode Speaker's Certainty in Neutral vs. Incredulity Declarative Questions in French

Amandine Michelas, Cristel Portes, Maud Champagne-Lavau

LPL, France

While recent crosslinguistic studies have shown that the degree of speaker's commitment or certainty is encoded intonationally either in a gradient or categorical fashion, our understanding of how French speakers use Intonational-Phrase (IP) final contours to signal their degree of certainty is limited. This paper investigates the contribution of a penultimate peak contour in French to convey speakers' uncertainty. Participants read target sentences in a neutral vs. incredulity declarative question context. Prosodic annotation revealed that incredulity declarative questions consistently exhibited the presence of an additional F0 peak in the penultimate syllable of the IP which was unaccented. The acoustic analyses showed that the H tone of the unaccented penultimate peak was not downstepped and thus approximately scaled to the same height of the last pitch accent. The findings of this study provide the first quantitative description of a phonological contrast between H*H% and H+ H*H% to signal speakers' certainty in declarative questions in French.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Michelas, Amandine / Portes, Cristel / Champagne-Lavau, Maud (2013): "Intonational contrasts encode speaker's certainty in neutral vs. incredulity declarative questions in French", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 783-787.