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      The Importance of a Distributional Approach to Categoriality in Autosegmental-Metrical Accounts of Intonation

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          Abstract

          When annotating a speech signal using an autosegmental-metrical model of intonation, transcribers associate portions of the F 0 contour with labels from a finite inventory of tonal categories. In the models we are concerned with here, these categories have the status of phonological units (phonological form), bridging the intrinsic variability of the speech signal (substance) with the intrinsic fuzziness of post-lexical function (meaning). This, together with the relatively small size of the label inventory, precludes a one-to-one relationship between form and substance, and/or between form and function. A Neapolitan Italian corpus of read speech is used to investigate the distributional properties of two pitch accents that have been studied extensively with respect to substance (the alignment of F 0 peaks) and meaning (sentence modality). Although there is a general consensus that peaks in this variety are aligned earlier in declaratives than in interrogatives, evidence is provided of contexts in which the converse is true, i.e., in which interrogative peaks are even earlier than their declarative counterparts. In this respect, interrogatives have a richer internal structure than declaratives. We argue that differences in how variably a prosodic category is encoded can be dealt with in an intonation transcription system, as long as this system relates phonological form (the choice of pitch accent in this case) both to phonetic substance and to meaning in a transparent way.

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          Surface and Structure: Transcribing Intonation within and across Languages

           Sonia Frota (2016)
          Intonation is the phonologically structured variation in phonetic features, primarily pitch, to express phrase-level meanings. As in other speech sound domains, analyzing intonation involves mapping continuously variable physical parameters to categories. The categories of intonation are organized in a set of relations and rule-governed distributions that define the intonation system of a language. From physical realizations, as shown by pitch tracks, surface or phonetic tonal patterns can be identified in terms of tonal targets. Whether surface patterns correspond or not to categories within a given intonation system requires looking at their distributions and contrastiveness. In this paper, I assume the view that a transcription is an analysis of the intonation system, which ultimately aims to identify the contrastive intonation categories of a given language and establish how they signal meaning. Under this view, it is crucial to discuss the ways surface pitch patterns and structural pitch patterns (or phonological categories) are related. Given that intonational analysis is driven by system-internal considerations and that cues to a given category can vary across languages, it is also important to address the issue of how a language-specific transcription can be reconciled with the need and ability to do cross-language comparison of intonation. Bearing on these two issues, I discuss surface and structure in intonational analysis, drawing on mismatches between (dis)similarities in the phonetics and phonology of pitch contours, across languages and language varieties.
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            Analytical Decisions in Intonation Research and the Role of Representations: Lessons from Romani

            This paper presents an analysis of the intonational system of Greek Thrace Romani. The analysis serves to highlight the difficulties that spontaneous fieldwork data pose for traditional methods of intonational research largely developed for use with controlled speech elicited in the laboratory or under laboratory-like conditions from educated speakers of standardized languages. It leads to proposing a set of principles and procedures which can help deal with the variability inherent in spontaneous data; these principles and procedures apply particularly to data from less homogeneous speech communities but are relevant for the intonation analysis of any linguistic system. This approach relies on the understanding that autosegmental-metrical representations of intonation are phonological representations, not means of faithfully depicting pitch contours per se. It follows that representations should capture what is contrastive in the intonational system under analysis. In turn, this entails that new categories are posited, taking the meaning of tonal events into account and after due consideration of all legitimate sources of phonetic variation. It is argued that following this procedure allows for more robust analyses and is particularly advantageous when data are highly variable. This view is discussed in light of the analysis of Greek Thrace Romani, and in combination with recent proposals for greater uniformity and phonetic transparency in intonational representations, traits which are said to lead to greater insights in typological and cross-varietal research. It is shown that these goals are not better served by a level of broad phonetic transcription which encodes an arbitrary selection of phonetic variants.
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              New Methods for Prosodic Transcription: Capturing Variability as a Source of Information

               Jennifer Cole (corresponding) ,  Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel (2016)
              Understanding the role of prosody in encoding linguistic meaning and in shaping phonetic form requires the analysis of prosodically annotated speech drawn from a wide variety of speech materials. Yet obtaining accurate and reliable prosodic annotations for even small datasets is challenging due to the time and expertise required. We discuss several factors that make prosodic annotation difficult and impact its reliability, all of which relate to variability : in the patterning of prosodic elements (features and structures) as they relate to the linguistic and discourse context, in the acoustic cues for those prosodic elements, and in the parameter values of the cues. We propose two novel methods for prosodic transcription that capture variability as a source of information relevant to the linguistic analysis of prosody. The first is Rapid Prosody Transcription (RPT), which can be performed by non-experts using a simple set of unary labels to mark prominence and boundaries based on immediate auditory impression. Inter-transcriber variability is used to calculate continuous-valued prosody ‘scores’ that are assigned to each word and represent the perceptual salience of its prosodic features or structure. RPT can be used to model the relative influence of top-down factors and acoustic cues in prosody perception, and to model prosodic variation across many dimensions, including language variety, speech style, or speaker’s affect. The second proposed method is the identification of individual cues to the contrastive prosodic elements of an utterance. Cue specification provides a link between the contrastive symbolic categories of prosodic structures and the continuous-valued parameters in the acoustic signal, and offers a framework for investigating how factors related to the grammatical and situational context influence the phonetic form of spoken words and phrases. While cue specification as a transcription tool has not yet been explored as RPT has, it has the potential to provide a level of detail that will be useful in modelling systematic context-governed variation in the implementation of prosodic categories, with applications in automatic speech synthesis and recognition, as well as modelling human speech production and perception. We discuss how RPT and cue specification, particularly when combined, can improve the efficiency and reliability of prosodic transcription and how they can be integrated with expert phonological transcription.
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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
                30 June 2016
                : 7
                : 1
                Affiliations
                IfL Phonetik, University of Cologne, DE
                Article
                10.5334/labphon.28
                Copyright: © 2016 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/.

                Categories
                Journal article

                Applied linguistics, General linguistics, Linguistics & Semiotics

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