SRPP: Prosodic prominence in typical and atypical speech

Doris Mücke (IfL Phonetics, University of Cologne)
05 février 2021, 14h0015h30

Prosodic prominence in typical and atypical speech

Prosody plays an essential role for conveying the meaning of an utterance and speakers use multiple cues in the phonetic domain to regulate prosodic marking. In intonation languages, such as in German, prominence marking requires changes in intonation and articulation. Speakers use laryngeal modifications such as the placement of a pitch accent and the choice between accent types to highlight important information in an utterance (Ladd 2014; Gussenhoven 2004). Furthermore, systematic changes in the supra-laryngeal system are observable, leading to a more distinct articulation of prosodic units such as syllables and words (Harrington, Fletcher & Beckman 2000; Georgeton & Fougeron 2014). However, intonational and articulatory marking of prominence were often treated separately (Mücke, Grice & Cho 2014).

In our project, we concentrated on the modelling of prosodic prominence in a dynamical systems approach (Browman & Goldstein 2000; Gafos 2006; Iskarous 2017; Mücke, Hermes & Tilsen 2020). We proposed a model that integrates intonation and articulation within a unified system (Roessig & Mücke 2019; Roessig, Mücke & Pagel 2019, Roessig 2021). Our analysis techniques were designed such that a large array of categorical (e.g. pitch accents) as well as continuous (e.g. magnitude of tonal movements) modulations of prosody could be captured. In terms of empirical evidence as well as modelling advances, we demonstrate that prosodic prominence entails a multi-dimensional bundle of cues that is used by speakers in a flexible, yet systematic way. We therefore recorded 27 native speakers of German. Articulatory and acoustic recordings were carried out simultaneously with a 3D Electromagnetic Articulograph. To obtain a controlled corpus that is suited for quantitative analyses of articulatory patterns and at the same time being ecologically valid we designed an interactive game-like experimental setting. In this setting, participants were involved in a story with two animated robots in a factory. The resulting large data set of 2160 items (27 speakers x 20 target words x 4 focus conditions) allowed for extensive analyses of categorical and continuous modulations in prosody and how they intertwine. We compare our results with the prosodic marking strategies of other speaker groups. Therefore, we investigate patients with Parkinson’s disease as well as older speakers (Thies et al. 2020; Mücke, Thies, Mertens & Hermes 2021). Our focus lies on the role of variability and compensation in groups with different abilities of the speech motor system.

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