15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Perceiving Question Intonation: The Role of Pre-Focal Pause and Delayed Focal Peak

David House

KTH, Sweden

This paper presents the results of a perception experiment designed to investigate the contribution of a pre-focal hesitation pause, delayed focal peak and a raised F0 range for signaling interrogative mode in Swedish. The results are consistent with a previous study which demonstrated that a delayed peak combined with a raised F0 range can effectively signal interrogative mode in Swedish echo questions. In addition, the present study supports the hypothesis that the presence of a pre-focal hesitation pause strengthens the interpretation of a focal peak delay as signaling question intonation. The results are discussed in terms of a framework of biological codes for universal meanings of intonation proposed by Gussenhoven. An additional biological code is proposed on a behavioral level where cognitive loading results in a hesitation pause or dysfluency which is perceived as non-assertiveness.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  House, David (2003): "Perceiving question intonation: the role of pre-focal pause and delayed focal peak", In ICPhS-15, 755-758.