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Prosody and Speaker State: Paralinguistics, Pragmatics, and Proficiency

By Jackson J. Liscombe


Prosody—suprasegmental characteristics of speech such as pitch, rhythm, and loudness— is a rich source of information in spoken language and can tell a listener much about the internal state of a speaker. This thesis explores the role of prosody in conveying three very different types of speaker state: paralinguistic state, in particular emotion; pragmatic state, in particular questioning; and the state of spoken language proficiency of non-native English speakers. Paralinguistics. Intonational features describing pitch contour shape were found to dis-criminate emotion in terms of positive and negative affect. A procedure is described for clustering groups of listeners according to perceptual emotion ratings that foster further understanding of the relationship between acoustic-prosodic cues and emotion perception. Pragmatics. Student questions in a corpus of one-on-one tutorial dialogs were found to be signaled primarily by phrase-final rising intonation, an important cue used in conjunc-tion with lexico-pragmatic cues to differentiate the high rate of observed declarative questions from proper declaratives. The automatic classification of question form an

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Year: 2007
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