14thAnnual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Lyon, France
August 25-29, 2013

Prosodic Encoding of Declarative, Interrogative and Imperative Sentences in Jaminjung, a Language of Australia

Candide Simard


This paper examines the prosodic encoding of sentence types in Jaminjung, a language of Northern Australia. Analyses cover the description of the contours as well as a systematic acoustic analysis, comprising the measurements of F0, duration, pitch excursion and velocity for each syllable in datasets carefully selected from spontaneous speech. Results show that declaratives and imperatives receive a falling contour; interrogatives, either polar or wh questions, can have one of three contours: falling, fall-rise, marked by a rise on the last syllable, or rising. A test on the F0 measurements of each sentence type with a falling contour reveals that they are in effect distinguished by pitch register, ranging from higher to lower, from imperatives to polar questions, to wh questions and statements. Hence, contour shape alone is not sufficient to describe the encoding of sentence types in Jaminjung: overall pitch register is also used. We will argue for the usefulness of instrumental phonetic investigations in describing lesser-known languages and also to enhance our understanding of sentence type characterization in a typological perspective.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Simard, Candide (2013): "Prosodic encoding of declarative, interrogative and imperative sentences in jaminjung, a language of australia", In INTERSPEECH-2013, 793-797.