Browsing by Subject "Prominence"

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  • Kallio, Heini; Suni, Antti; Šimko, Juraj; Vainio, Martti (2020)
    Prosodic characteristics, such as lexical and phrasal stress, are one of the most challenging features for second language (L2) speakers to learn. The ability to quantify language learners' proficiency in terms of prosody can be of use to language teachers and improve the assessment of L2 speaking skills. Automatic assessment, however, requires reliable automatic analyses of prosodic features that allow for the comparison between the productions of L2 speech and reference samples. In this paper we investigate whether signal-based syllable prominence can be used to predict the prosodic competence of Finnish learners of Swedish. Syllable-level prominence was estimated for 180 L2 and 45 native (L1) utterances by a continuous wavelet transform analysis using combinations of f(0), energy, and duration. The L2 utterances were graded by four expert assessors using the revised CEFR scale for prosodic features. Correlations of prominence estimates for L2 utterances with estimates for L1 utterances and linguistic stress patterns were used as a measure of prosodic proficiency of the L2 speakers. The results show that the level of agreement conceptualized in this way correlates significantly with the assessments of expert raters, providing strong support for the use of the wavelet-based prominence estimation techniques in computer-assisted assessment of L2 speaking skills.
  • Cole, Jennifer; Hualde, José Ignacio; Smith, Caroline L.; Eager, Christopher; Mahrt, Timothy; Napoleão de Souza, Ricardo (2019)
    This study tests the influence of acoustic cues and non-acoustic contextual factors on listeners’ perception of prominence in three languages whose prominence systems differ in the phonological patterning of prominence and in the association of prominence with information structure—English, French and Spanish. Native speakers of each language performed an auditory rating task to mark prominent words in samples of conversational speech under two instructions: with prominence defined in terms of acoustic or meaning-related criteria. Logistic regression models tested the role of task instruction, acoustic cues and non-acoustic contextual factors in predicting binary prominence ratings of individual listeners. In all three languages we find similar effects of prosodic phrase structure and acoustic cues (F0, intensity, phone-rate) on prominence ratings, and differences in the effect of word frequency and instruction. In English, where phrasal prominence is used to convey meaning related to information structure, acoustic and meaning criteria converge on very similar prominence ratings. In French and Spanish, where prominence plays a lesser role in signaling information structure, phrasal prominence is perceived more narrowly on structural and acoustic grounds. Prominence ratings from untrained listeners correspond with ToBI pitch accent labels for each language. Distinctions in ToBI pitch accent status (nuclear, prenuclear, unaccented) are reflected in empirical and model-predicted prominence ratings. In addition, words with a ToBI pitch accent type that is typically associated with contrastive focus are more likely to be rated as prominent in Spanish and English, but no such effect is found for French. These findings are discussed in relation to probabilistic models of prominence production and perception.