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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003


Semantic Features of Accent Contours: Effects of F0 Peak Position and F0 Time Shape

Ernst Dombrowski

Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany

Using the semantic differential technique, form and meaning features of prosodic accent contours are investigated. Intonational peaks of German are looked at. Two series of contours derived from a single-accent utterance were judged by groups of about 40 listeners each. For the judgements eight semantic scales were selected. They were presented in couples of one heard stimulus and one rating scale. By multidimensional semantic analysis parallel to an acoustic stimulus continuum, basic intonational meaning contrasts were shown. But there were further aspects: In order to comprehend the form and meaning of intonational accent contours, not only such features as the position of F0 peaks (and valleys) must be considered, but also the time shape of the contours, this time shape being expressed by the distribution of high and low pitch information across the accent contour and by durational factors. Concerning durational effects, the duration variation before and after the accented vowel onset must be treated separately. The results show that the semantic differential is a suitable device for hypothesis driven research on intonation.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Dombrowski, Ernst (2003): "Semantic features of accent contours: effects of F0 peak position and F0 time shape", In ICPhS-15, 1217-1220.