Prosody: The Rhythms and Melodies of Speech

by   Dafydd Gibbon, et al.

The present contribution is a tutorial on selected aspects of prosody, the rhythms and melodies of speech, based on a course of the same name at the Summer School on Contemporary Phonetics and Phonology at Tongji University, Shanghai, China in July 2016. The tutorial is not intended as an introduction to experimental methodology or as an overview of the literature on the topic, but as an outline of observationally accessible aspects of fundamental frequency and timing patterns with the aid of computational visualisation, situated in a semiotic framework of sign ranks and interpretations. After an informal introduction to the basic concepts of prosody in the introduction and a discussion of the place of prosody in the architecture of language, a selection of acoustic phonetic topics in phonemic tone and accent prosody, word prosody, phrasal prosody and discourse prosody are discussed, and a stylisation method for visualising aspects of prosody is introduced. Examples are taken from a number of typologically different languages: Anyi/Agni (Niger-Congo>Kwa, Ivory Coast), English, Kuki-Thadou (Sino-Tibetan, North-East India and Myanmar), Mandarin Chinese, Tem (Niger-Congo>Gur, Togo) and Farsi. The main focus is on fundamental frequency patterns, but issues of timing and rhythm are also discussed. In the final section, further reading and possible future research directions are outlined.


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