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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Breathiness and Politeness: An Experimental Study of Male Speakers of Japanese

Mika Ito

University of Edinburgh, UK

This study investigates the contribution of breathiness to the expression of positive politeness under varying conditions of relative social status between male speakers of Japanese. In previous studies, suprasegmental features have been found to express politeness. However, the association between suprasegmental features and politeness is complex. In order to convey positive politeness, speakers may modify voice quality. In this study, the contribution of breathiness, often associated with intimacy, was the focus of interest. Vowel data (/a/) were extracted from natural utterances produced by five male native speakers of Tokyo dialect. For measurement of breathiness, a method suggested by Hanson (1995) was employed, to avoid known disadvantages of inverse filtering.
   The study also employed a perception test, in which 22 native Tokyo Japanese listeners rated politeness-related features of the utterances. The results suggest that perceived positive politeness is more likely to be correlated with the first formant bandwidth than with the other parameters measured.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Ito, Mika (2003): "Breathiness and Politeness: an experimental study of male speakers of Japanese", In ICPhS-15, 2165-2168.