02 October 2011

GLOW Workshop on Prosody

Production and perception of prosodically-encoded information structure

Organizers: Frank Kügler and Sabine Zerbian

Keynote speaker: to be announced. 

Deadline: November 15. 

Description: In many (though not in all) languages, information-structural context, e.g. focus, influences the prosodic form of an utterance. Information structure may be prosodically encoded by different acoustic parameters, such as the commonly found increase in intensity, duration and fundamental frequency for focus, but also by differences in pitch register scaling of tones or phrasing. The prosodic encoding of information structure may be based on universal aspects of pitch (Gussenhoven 2004) or driven by communication-oriented processes as a deviation from a neutral register/voice (Kügler 2011). Many studies have investigated the prosodic encoding of information structure in a variety of languages, as e.g. presented at last year's GLOW workshop on the phonological marking of focus and topic. 

The workshop wants to continue this research by turning to the perceptual relevance of the prosodic encoding of information structure. It is therefore interested in the combination of production and perception studies. It aims at dealing with the questions whether listeners perceive prosodic differences related to information structure and how they decode this information at the interface of phonetics, phonology and semantics/pragmatics. E.g. studies by Wu and Xu (2010) have shown that listeners can reliably point out the "prominent" element in a sentence in a language that marks focus prosodically. Swerts et al. (2002) have shown that Dutch listeners are able to reconstruct previous discourse on the basis of prosodic information. Common experimental tasks used to elicit perception and interpretation data include prominence ratings, context matching, and appropriate judgments. 

Particular emphasis will be on work that addresses these issues in lesser studied languages and varieties (including contact varieties and learner varieties) in order to gain insight into the existing variation concerning not only production but also perception of prosodically-encoded information structure and therefore reach at a better understanding of the phenomenon as such. 

Core issues are:

  • Which prosodic cues to information structure do we find in the languages of the world? Are certain cues more prevalent in one type of language than in another?
  • Are prosodic cues to information structure found in production studies perceived and parsed to such an extent that they influence the interpretation of the meaning of a sentence?
  • Are gradual changes in prosodic cues to information structure perceived categorically?
  • If information structure is encoded by means of different prosodic cues such as F0, duration, intensity or phrasing, do listeners make use of all the cues, or which cues are most important in the perception and interpretation of information structure?
  • If in speech production evidence for speaker-specific strategies to prosodically mark information structure is found, how do listeners deal with speaker variation?
  • Does information structure have a direct or indirect effect on the phonetic realization of the intonation contour and/or phrasing? Are there further case studies that provide evidence for a communication-oriented approach in the phonetic encoding of information structure?
  • What are important methodological issues in the study of perception and interpretation of prosodically-encoded information structure?

We invite abstracts for 30 + 15 minute talks. Abstracts are to be submitted via EasyChair. Please consult the abstract guidelines before submitting.