Methods

SPRINT employs a variety of methods to investigate intonation both in speech production and processing, aiming to understand and model variability, and develop novel models of intonational phonology and pragmatics

Understanding the role of the individual

In order to understand individual variability we are collecting different types of data related to our participants. In addition to demographic information, we are collecting the following:

  1. Empathy Quotient and Autism Quotient, since both empathy and autistic traits are said to play a role in the use of intonation

  2. Auditory abilities, particularly frequency discrimination acuity

  3. Musicality, defined as a combination of tonal memory, affinity for music, and musical training.

Modelling variation in production

To understand contextual variability, we are collecting a large corpus of both scripted and spontaneous data. The data will be annotated using AM and RPT,and modelled using Functional Principal Component Analysis.

 

Naïve Bayes classifiers trained on scripted data will be used to determine whether disputed categories (e.g., types of English final rises) can be discriminated based on form. Finally, unsupervised clustering will be used on the same data to examine how closely they correspond to these putative tonal categories.

Perception and pragmatics

The speech corpora will be pragmatically annotated and analysed. Behavioural experiments, eyetracking and neurophysiological studies will be used to test

  1. compositionality in intonational meaning

  2. the perceptual relevance of the phonetic findings, particularly with respect to gradience and cue-trading

  3. the role of intonation in communication across linguistic varieties.

Formal modelling

SPRINT’s final phase will involve phonological analysis of the phenomena studied and the development of a model of intonational meaning. The analyses will be developed taking into consideration both the results of the experiments and modelling, and principles of phonology and pragmatics.

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SPRINT

SPRINT is the acronym of grant ERC-ADG-835263 titled "Speech Prosody in Interaction: The form and function of intonation in human communication". SPRINT is a 5-year (2019-2024) €2,481,196 research program funded by the European Research Council (ERC). Amalia Arvaniti is the Principal Investigator. SPRINT is currently based at the University of Kent but moving to Radboud University by the end of 2020.

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