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Speech intonation and focus location in matched statements and questions

, : Speech intonation and focus location in matched statements and questions. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 80(2): 402-415

An acoustical study of speech production was conducted to determine the manner in which the location of linguistic focus influences intonational attributes of duration and fundamental voice frequency (FO) in matched statements and questions. Speakers orally read sentences that were preceded by aurally presented stimuli designed to elicit either no focus or focus on the first or last noun phrase of the target sentences. Computer-aided acoustical analyses of word durations showed a localized, large magnitude increase in the duration of the focused word for both statements and questions. Analysis of FO revealed a more complex pattern of results, with the shape of the FO topline dependent on sentence type and focus location. For sentences with neutral or sentence-final focus, the difference in the FO topline between questions and statements was evident only on the last key word, where the FO peak of questions was considerably higher than that of statements. For sentences with focus on the first key word, there was no difference in peak FO on the focused item itself, but the FO toplines of questions and statements diverged quite dramatically following the initial word. The statements contour dropped to a low FO value for the remainder of the sentence, whereas the question remained quite high in FO for all subsequent words. In addition, the FO contour on the focused word was rising in questions and falling in statements, regardless of focus location. The results provide a basis for work on the perception of linguistic focus.

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Accession: 006461408

PMID: 3745672

DOI: 10.1121/1.394091

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