14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

Forms and Prosodic Characteristics of Backchannels in Tokyo and Osaka Japanese

Yasuhiro Katagiri (1), Miyoko Sugito (2), Yasuko Nagano-Madsen (3)

(1) ATR Media Integration & Communications Research Laboratories, Japan
(2) Institute for Speech Communication Research, Japan
(3) University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Linguistic forms, prosodic characteristics and conversational functions of Japanese backchannels (‘aiduti’) were investigated. Based on an empirical analysis of recorded conversations in the Tokyo and Osaka dialects of Japanese, a bipartite classification scheme is proposed for backchannel items in terms of their types of linguistic forms. With the scheme, it was found that the first category of backchannels constitutes the major use of backchannels across the two dialects and social groups, whereas the dialectal and sociolinguistic variations in backchannel forms are confined to the second category. An experiment was then conducted, with the help of speech processing technology, to assess conversational functions of forms and prosodic characteristics of backchannel utterances. It was found that the use of backchannels and their appropriate temporal placements are significant in making a lively and smooth conversation.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Katagiri, Yasuhiro / Sugito, Miyoko / Nagano-Madsen, Yasuko (1999): "Forms and prosodic characteristics of backchannels in Tokyo and Osaka Japanese", In ICPhS-14, 2411-2414.