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      (In)variability in the Samoan syntax/prosody interface and consequences for syntactic parsing

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          Abstract

          While it has long been clear that prosody should be part of the grammar influencing the action of the syntactic parser, how to bring prosody into computational models of syntactic parsing has remained unclear. The challenge is that prosodic information in the speech signal is the result of the interaction of a multitude of conditioning factors. From this output, how can we factor out the contribution of syntax to conditioning prosodic events? And if we are able to do that factorization and define a production model from the syntactic grammar to a prosodified utterance, how can we then define a comprehension model based on that production model? In this case study of the Samoan morphosyntax-prosody interface, we show how to factor out the influence of syntax on prosody in empirical work and confirm there is invariable morphosyntactic conditioning of high edge tones. Then, we show how this invariability can be precisely characterized and used by a parsing model that factors the various influences of morphosyntax on tonal events. We expect that models of these kinds can be extended to more comprehensive perspectives on Samoan and to languages where the syntax/prosody coupling is more complex.

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          Prosody-Based Automatic Segmentation of Speech into Sentences and Topics

          A crucial step in processing speech audio data for information extraction, topic detection, or browsing/playback is to segment the input into sentence and topic units. Speech segmentation is challenging, since the cues typically present for segmenting text (headers, paragraphs, punctuation) are absent in spoken language. We investigate the use of prosody (information gleaned from the timing and melody of speech) for these tasks. Using decision tree and hidden Markov modeling techniques, we combine prosodic cues with word-based approaches, and evaluate performance on two speech corpora, Broadcast News and Switchboard. Results show that the prosodic model alone performs on par with, or better than, word-based statistical language models -- for both true and automatically recognized words in news speech. The prosodic model achieves comparable performance with significantly less training data, and requires no hand-labeling of prosodic events. Across tasks and corpora, we obtain a significant improvement over word-only models using a probabilistic combination of prosodic and lexical information. Inspection reveals that the prosodic models capture language-independent boundary indicators described in the literature. Finally, cue usage is task and corpus dependent. For example, pause and pitch features are highly informative for segmenting news speech, whereas pause, duration and word-based cues dominate for natural conversation.
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            Prosodic Planning: Effects of Phrasal Length and Complexity on Pause Duration.

            Research on pause duration has mainly focused on the impact of syntactic structure on the duration of pauses within an utterance and on the impact of syntax, discourse, and prosodic structure on the likelihood of pause occurrence. Relatively little is known about what factors play a role in determining the duration of pauses between utterances or phrases. Two experiments examining the effect of prosodic structure and phrase length on pause duration are reported. Subjects read sentences varying along the following parameters: a) the length in syllables of the intonational phrase preceding and following the pause, and b) the prosodic structure of the intonational phrase preceding and following the pause, specifically whether or not the intonational phrase branches into smaller phrases. In order to minimize variability due to speech rate and individual differences, speakers read sentences synchronously in dyads. The results showed a significant post-boundary effect of prosodic branching and significant pre- and post-boundary phrase length effects. The results are discussed in terms of production units.
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              Rate effects on French intonation: prosodic organization and phonetic realization

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                1868-6354
                Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology
                Ubiquity Press
                1868-6354
                18 October 2017
                : 8
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, US
                [2 ]Department of Linguistics, UCLA and Nuance Communications, Sunnyvale, US
                Article
                10.5334/labphon.113
                Copyright: © 2017 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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