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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

On the Function of Low and High Boundary Tones in Dutch Dialogue

Johanneke Caspers

Universiteit Leiden Centre for Linguistics, The Netherlands

The main question asked in the present investigation is the following: do low boundary tones (L%) signal optional speaker transitions, while high boundary tones (H%) mark obligatory transitions? Optional speaker transitions concern cases where the same speaker could continue, provided that no other interlocutor takes the next turn. Obligatory transitions may involve a change of speaker (question - answer), but they can also implicate turn-holding (comma). In a corpus of Dutch task-oriented dialogues all prepausal stretches of speech were categorized as leading to either obligatory or optional speaker transitions, and these data were compared with the boundary tones occurring immediately before the pause, as well as the transitions directly following the pause. Results suggest that speakers indeed use H% to signal that the listener is expected to do something specific: either take the next turn, or, just the opposite, keep listening, while L% does not invite such specific turn-taking behavior.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Caspers, Johanneke (2003): "On the function of low and high boundary tones in Dutch dialogue", In ICPhS-15, 1771-1774.