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On the notion of 'fine phonetic detail' in communicative phonetic science The case of speech reduction Klaus J. Kohler IPDS, Kiel Speech Reduction Workshop.

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Presentation on theme: "On the notion of 'fine phonetic detail' in communicative phonetic science The case of speech reduction Klaus J. Kohler IPDS, Kiel Speech Reduction Workshop."— Presentation transcript:


2 On the notion of 'fine phonetic detail' in communicative phonetic science The case of speech reduction Klaus J. Kohler IPDS, Kiel Speech Reduction Workshop at MPI for Psycholinguistics Nijmegen, 15 June 2008

3 1 Theory and methodology of 'fine phonetic detail' 'fine phonetic detail' current term in speech analysis –2 diametrically opposed philosophies of science (a) replacing auditory assessment ¶ by detailed acoustic or articulatory measurement to fill pre-established phonological categories ¶ subsequent inferential statistics to confirm these categories as phonologies of speech production ¶ they also enter into perceptual experiments ¶ weak or no link to functions in communication ¶ this is the Laboratory Phonology paradigm

4 (b) supplementing fine auditory assessment ¶ by fine physical measurement ¶ in relation to specific speech functions in communicative interaction ¶ including the listener even in speech production ¶ this is the paradigm behind the Sound-to-Sense project ¶ Sarah Hawkins & John Local, Sound to Sense: Introduction to the Special Session, 16 th ICPhS 2007

5 2Fine phonetic detail in speech reduction the Laboratory Phonology paradigm is not suited to handle speech reduction in an illuminating way –because phonological contrasts at the lexical level may disappear at the phrase level and be irrelevant for the listener and for communication –and non-lexical contrasts may emerge in fine phonetic detail as highly relevant for the listener –and reduction is not just a mechanical articulatory process but depends on communicative function

6 I will provide illustrations of the broad spectrum of articulatory reduction in lexical items with German data from the Kiel Corpus of Spontaneous Speech the reductions will be analyzed as processes –in which articulatory movements are curtailed or eliminated –and articulatory prosodies, such as palatalization, are nevertheless maintained and surface as new distinctive features

7 –on the one hand, these reductions are differential mechanical simplifications in utterance context –on the other, they retain the essentials of the articulatory movements that characterize the whole set of realizations of a lexical item for a listener therefore, the new distinctive features will then be discussed from the point of view of essential perceptual cues –which Oliver Niebuhr is going to elaborate on with experimental results in his presentation finally the functional, communicative dependence of phonetic manifestation in speech reduction will be discussed with examples from German and English

8 German wahrscheinlich ein bisschen "probably a little"

9 all the segments that are characterized by palatality – – are dropped as segmental units –which can be understood as articulatory simplification ¶ and are opposed as front closure/side opening and front opening/side closure, and are levelled to the latter ¶ the unstressed vowel gets absorbed in the tongue-body raising movement from to ¶ in the unstressed sonorant environment the fricative stricture is not made ¶ and nasalization runs through the rising gesture

10 –the unstressed function word is generally reduced to the nasal, which is assimilated to a following labial –the result is a palatal trajectory + –so the palatal feature of the lost segments stays, attached to the nasal –and this is a signal to the listener that the derivative suffix - is there

11 all derivative suffixes –lich may undergo the same basic articulatory reduction processes –but they are also shaped by the preceding and following articulatory movements, into which the reductions are embedded they are different for eigentlich

12 –unstressed syllable preceding –in it, the opening movement out of the plosive closure is usually not realised ¶ out of 68 instances not a single one has –results in one dorsal-velar movement –and, with early velic lowering, in, or just in vowel nasalization, without velar contact –in, the sequence allround closure, central closure – lateral opening, central opening – lateral closure is simplified in various ways:

13 –the palatal frication in the last syllable may be strong, weak, or absent –a stop closure in the transition from the second to the last syllable may be integrated into the dorsal tongue movement, as the rest of the syllable, and be pre-velar/palatal, rather than apical-alveolar

14 –the nasality of the 2 nd -syllable offset may be carried into the onset of the last syllable ¶ ¶ complete integration into the dorsal raising gesture, elimination of the apical gesture ¶ intervocalic apical gesture

15 –thus the dynamic vocal-tract shaping in the execution of the two syllables is highly variable ¶ coordination of ° 2 opening-closing gestures ° 2 oral articulators – tongue dorsum and tip ° velic action ° glottal activity ¶ leads to multitude of phonetic variants

16 –a segmental phonetic transcription provides only an abstraction from the time processes involved ¶ therefore spectrogram illustrations of the main variants from quite elaborated to quite reduced









25 –the spontaneous corpus does not contain instances of reductions to a simple dorsal tongue movement into a high palatal position ¶ but they are possible ¶ I have produced them in multiple repetitions of the phrase Das ist eigentlich ganz guter Wein. "This is really quite good wine " ¶ ¶

26 –they differ from the indefinite article in Das ist ein ganz guter Wein. "This is quite a good wine." ¶ in fine phonetic detail of nasalization on a palatal vs. a velar dorsal tongue movement ¶ in ein the vowel tends to be reduced in spectral dynamics and duration and may be elided ¶ the nasal is place-assimilated to a following cons ¶ in eigentlich long residual palatal movement ¶

27 – duration: words: 197 – 188ms, vowels: 197 – 129 ms; : 79 – 18 ms formant end: F1 262 – 391Hz; F2 1984 – 1876Hz; F3 3594 – 3520Hz more/less palatal, in spectrum and time; perceptual testing greater cohesion of article with next word: shorter initial cons

28 3Functions of speech reductions these reductions are context and situation-bound wahrscheinlich has 1 post-stress syllable –extreme levelling of the post-stress syllable fits into a rhythm where another beat follows and a weak syllable intervenes, as in the example given –it would thus be unlikely utterance-final –or immediately before another beat, as, e.g., in wahrscheinlich krank –it is also tied to a modal-particle meaning –and alien in the expression of graded probability, as in, e.g., höchst wahrscheinlich

29 eigentlich has 2 post-stress syllables – levelling of both opening gestures is rare presupposes integration in weak rhythm section ¶ up-beat: das ist 'ganz guter 'Wein ¶ in thesis: 'trifft sich doch recht 'gut –common pattern is di-syllabic of varying complexity ¶ most elaborate before dysfluency and pauses also 'ich hätte jetzt 'ja, 'heute kann ich 'auch, 'jeden 'Termin

30 ¶ even tri-syllabic in slow speaking style ich hab 'nur noch 'Ostern frei ¶ strongly reduced di-syllabic forms when whole word in weak rhythm section wie 'lang soll die 'Woche 'sein? den 'ganzen 'Tag ], 'das ist also 'kein 'Problem ° phrase boundary, but no break ich 'bin 'gar nicht 'da

31 –reductions again tied to a modal-particle meaning ¶ in all the examples, eigentlich fulfils the function of attenuating categoricalness, e.g. ich bin eigentlich gar nicht da ich hab' eigentlich nur nach Ostern frei ¶ in eigentlich ganz guter Wein, it lowers the meaning of ganz to 'moderately' ° vs. 'particularly' in ein ganz guter Wein ° functional difference coded by FPD palatality vs. velarity, auditorily acute vs. grave ° perceptual robustness increases with syntagmatic extension of the feature

32 –these reductions not possible with the meaning 'really', vs. 'actually', which emphasizes categorical contrast was ist 'Phonetik 'eigentlich? "what is Phonetics really?" occurs in last accented position in prosodic phrase vs.was ist 'Phonetik eigentlich? / eigentlich 'Phonetik? "what is Phonetics actually?

33 These phrase-phonetic patterns are regular in relation to communicative situations –and can go even further –Sarah Hawkins & Rachel Smith "Polysp: a polysytemic, phonetically rich approach to speech understanding", Italian Journal of Linguistics, 13 (2002) ¶ conveying the meaning of I DO NOT KNOW ¶ I don't know ¶ dunno

34 ¶ expanded forms, different kinds of exasperation ¶ forms reduced to dynamically changing vocalic resonances, rudiments of three syllables ° from more open to less open ° with increasing lip narrowing ° most extreme form can be ° not slurred drunken speech ° but casual speech when otherwise occupied

35 –we find exactly the same reductions in the German equivalents keine Ahnung weiß ich nicht –and the same intensifications keine Ahnung weiß ich nicht

36 These data show basic principles of speech production –speech articulation occurs along a scale from elaboration to reduction ¶ reduced to dynamically changing vocal-tract resonances at the low end, ¶ where consonantal, especially apical, strictures, riding on dorsal tongue movements are eliminated ¶ in conjunction with communicative functions ¶ and, contrariwise, consonantal strictures are reinforced in functionally conditioned elaboration –in this functional perspective, speech articulation is intimately linked to speech rhythm and prosody

37 4Conclusion We need to develop the study of speech as a unitary communicative phonetic science –in which every speech phenomenon may be studied from 4 perspectives –that must converge on the central goal to understand how humans communicate with speech in languages

38 ¶ linguistic categorization ¶ speech signal analysis ¶ speech perception and understanding ¶ communicative function –in a step-wise progression ¶ from the isolated word and sentence ¶ to complex phonetic patterns in speech interaction

39 The paradigm From Sound to Sense which I have presented for the analysis of phrase- level pronunciation –takes variability in speech production and perception as its point of departure

40 –it does not assume phonological invariance –but establishes regularities of flexible sound patterns –paying attention to fine phonetic detail –in relation to communicative situations and functions –in the languages of the world

41 So, let me finish with a quotation from Stephen Handel, Listening. An introduction to the perception of auditory events, MIT Press, 1989, p. 162 "… it seems almost impossible to define phonetic categories in fixed acoustic terms. We may be able to define phonetic categories in terms of higher-order dynamic acoustic variation, but this effort is just beginning. The resolution of the issue is still to come."

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