Language-specificity in the perception of continuation intonation

Chen, A. (2007). Language-specificity in the perception of continuation intonation. In C. Gussenhoven, & T. Riad (Eds.), Tones and tunes II: Phonetic and behavioural studies in word and sentence prosody (pp. 107-142). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
This paper addressed the question of how British English, German and Dutch listeners differ in their perception of continuation intonation both at the phonological level (Experiment 1) and at the level of phonetic implementation (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, preference scores of pitch contours to signal continuation at the clause-boundary were obtained from these listener groups. It was found that among contours with H%, British English listeners had a strong preference for H*L H%, as predicted. Unexpectedly, British English listeners rated H* H% noticeably more favourably than L*H H%; Dutch listeners largely rated H* H% more favourably than H*L H% and L*H H%; German listeners rated these contours similarly and seemed to have a slight preference for H*L H%. In Experiment 2, the degree to which a final rise was perceived to express continuation was established for each listener group in a made-up language. It was found that although all listener groups associated a higher end pitch with a higher degree of continuation likelihood, the perceived meaning difference for a given interval of end pitch heights varied with the contour shape of the utterance final syllable. When it was comparable to H* H%, British English and Dutch listeners perceived a larger meaning difference than German listeners; when it was comparable to H*L H%, British English listeners perceived a larger difference than German and Dutch listeners. This shows that language-specificity in continuation intonation at the phonological level affects the perception of continuation intonation at the phonetic level.
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