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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

The Production and Perception of Focus in Finnish

Martti Vainio (1), Hansjörg Mixdorff (2), Juhani Jarvikivi (3), Stefan Werner (4)

(1) University of Helsinki, Finland
(2) Berlin University of Applied Sciences, Germany
(3) University of Dundee, Finland
(4) Joensuun Yliopisto, Finland

This paper presents a study examining the production and perception of focus in Finnish. In a corpus of segmentally identical utterances the F0 contour was systematically varied to elicit different perceptions of focus. All utterances were rated with respect to their perceived naturalness by 12 native speakers of Finnish. Based on these results an experiment with respect to the perception of focus using re-synthesized stimuli was performed. In the test the subjects had to decide which of the four possible focus conditions they perceived. The results include, inter alia, that the second accent in the utterance must be raised by at least 2.6 semitones from the baseline to be perceived to have narrow focus on the latter word of two-accent utterance. Stimuli with rises closest to the means given for the four conditions were generally identified as belonging to the intended category, though the condition "broad", apparently the default choice, covers a large triangular region in the two-dimensional accent space. For the broad condition to be unanimously perceived also requires that the latter accent peak be lower than the first - this gives indirect evidence to the hypothesis that Finnish listeners and speakers normalize for declination.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Vainio, Martti / Mixdorff, Hansjörg / Jarvikivi, Juhani / Werner, Stefan (2003): "The production and perception of focus in Finnish", In ICPhS-15, 1831-1834.