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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Identifying Regional Varieties by Pitch Information: A Comparison of Two Approaches

Jörg Peters (1), Peter Gilles (2), Peter Auer (2), Margret Selting (3)

(1) University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands
(2) University of Freiburg, Germany
(3) University of Potsdam, Germany

It is a commonly held belief that languages and dialects can be identified by pitch information alone. In most previous experiments, subjects were presented with pitch information as well as with limited information on amplitude and timing but not with higher-level, i.e. linguistic, information as represented by intonation contours. The question arises as to whether higher-level information may significantly enhance success rates. To evaluate both approaches, two experiments were carried out. In the first experiment, listeners were presented with isolated pitch information extracted from recordings of four varieties of German. In the second experiment, listeners were presented with intonation contours of the same varieties, which were superimposed on neutral carrier utterances. The results suggest that success rates may indeed be enhanced by using intonation contours. Moreover, the linguistic background of the listeners was found to affect performance in both tests.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Peters, Jörg / Gilles, Peter / Auer, Peter / Selting, Margret (2003): "Identifying regional varieties by pitch information: a comparison of two approaches", In ICPhS-15, 1065-1068.