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Phonetic and phonological imitation of intonation in two varieties of Italian.

D'Imperio M, Cavone R, Petrone C - Front Psychol (2014)

Bottom Line: Our results show that phonetic detail of tonal alignment can be successfully modified by both BI and NI speakers when imitating a model speaker of the other variety.Moreover the effect was significantly stronger for low frequency words.Hence, our data show that intonation imitation leads to fast modification of both phonetic and phonological intonation representations including detail of tonal alignment and pitch scaling.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: CNRS, LPL, UMR 7309, Aix-Marseille Université Aix-en-Provence, France ; Institut Universitaire de France Paris, France.

ABSTRACT
The aim of this study was to test whether both phonetic and phonological representations of intonation can be rapidly modified when imitating utterances belonging to a different regional variety of the same language. Our main hypothesis was that tonal alignment, just as other phonetic features of speech, would be rapidly modified by Italian speakers when imitating pitch accents of a different (Southern) variety of Italian. In particular, we tested whether Bari Italian (BI) speakers would produce later peaks for their native rising L + H(*) (question pitch accent) in the process of imitating Neapolitan Italian (NI) rising L(*) + H accents. Also, we tested whether BI speakers are able to modify other phonetic properties (pitch level) as well as phonological characteristics (changes in tonal composition) of the same contour. In a follow-up study, we tested if the reverse was also true, i.e., whether NI speakers would produce earlier peaks within the L(*) + H accent in the process of imitating the L + H(*) of BI questions, despite the presence of a contrast between two rising accents in this variety. Our results show that phonetic detail of tonal alignment can be successfully modified by both BI and NI speakers when imitating a model speaker of the other variety. The hypothesis of a selective imitation process preventing alignment modifications in NI was hence not supported. Moreover the effect was significantly stronger for low frequency words. Participants were also able to imitate other phonetic cues, in that they modified global utterance pitch level. Concerning phonological convergence, speakers modified the tonal specification of the edge tones in order to resemble that of the other variety by either suppressing or increasing the presence of a final H%. Hence, our data show that intonation imitation leads to fast modification of both phonetic and phonological intonation representations including detail of tonal alignment and pitch scaling.

No MeSH data available.


Boxplots for H alignment across Word Frequency and Task for NI speakers. The 0 level in the y-axis indicate syllable onset. The notch indicates the 95% confidence interval for comparing medians.
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Figure 5: Boxplots for H alignment across Word Frequency and Task for NI speakers. The 0 level in the y-axis indicate syllable onset. The notch indicates the 95% confidence interval for comparing medians.

Mentions: In order to test the selective imitation hypothesis, we carried out a follow-up study with NI speakers imitating a BI model speaker, given that NI shows a contrast between two accentual rises having different association and alignment properties. Generally speaking, Neapolitan speakers were able to imitate tonal alignment, pitch level, and edge tone specification of BI utterances. Note that only proportional alignment was analyzed so as to avoid the duration confound related to Word Frequency (see Tonal Alignment above). Figure 5 shows that proportional tonal alignment in the Baseline task was later (average across word frequency: 67.4%)3 than in the Imitation task (45.5%), indicating that NI speakers successfully imitated the early alignment of BI L + H* nuclear accents. The Task effect was significant (β = 14.03, SE = 5.24, t = 2.67). The significant interaction between Task and Variety indicates that the difference between Baseline and Imitation was larger for NI than for BI imitators (β = 24.03, SE = 6.18, t = 3.89). As in the main experiment, Word Frequency was significant only in the Imitation task (β = -16.52, SE = 2.56, t = -6.44). However, the direction of the effect was, as expected, reversed relative to the one found in the main experiment, with the pitch peak being aligned earlier in low (36.37%) than in high (56.01%) frequency words. This is coherent with the fact that the direction of the alignment difference being imitated by the participants was the opposite in the two studies, but it also further supports that the frequency effect is not due to specific phonetic properties of the words employed; otherwise the direction of the effect would have been the same in the two studies.


Phonetic and phonological imitation of intonation in two varieties of Italian.

D'Imperio M, Cavone R, Petrone C - Front Psychol (2014)

Boxplots for H alignment across Word Frequency and Task for NI speakers. The 0 level in the y-axis indicate syllable onset. The notch indicates the 95% confidence interval for comparing medians.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4219553&req=5

Figure 5: Boxplots for H alignment across Word Frequency and Task for NI speakers. The 0 level in the y-axis indicate syllable onset. The notch indicates the 95% confidence interval for comparing medians.
Mentions: In order to test the selective imitation hypothesis, we carried out a follow-up study with NI speakers imitating a BI model speaker, given that NI shows a contrast between two accentual rises having different association and alignment properties. Generally speaking, Neapolitan speakers were able to imitate tonal alignment, pitch level, and edge tone specification of BI utterances. Note that only proportional alignment was analyzed so as to avoid the duration confound related to Word Frequency (see Tonal Alignment above). Figure 5 shows that proportional tonal alignment in the Baseline task was later (average across word frequency: 67.4%)3 than in the Imitation task (45.5%), indicating that NI speakers successfully imitated the early alignment of BI L + H* nuclear accents. The Task effect was significant (β = 14.03, SE = 5.24, t = 2.67). The significant interaction between Task and Variety indicates that the difference between Baseline and Imitation was larger for NI than for BI imitators (β = 24.03, SE = 6.18, t = 3.89). As in the main experiment, Word Frequency was significant only in the Imitation task (β = -16.52, SE = 2.56, t = -6.44). However, the direction of the effect was, as expected, reversed relative to the one found in the main experiment, with the pitch peak being aligned earlier in low (36.37%) than in high (56.01%) frequency words. This is coherent with the fact that the direction of the alignment difference being imitated by the participants was the opposite in the two studies, but it also further supports that the frequency effect is not due to specific phonetic properties of the words employed; otherwise the direction of the effect would have been the same in the two studies.

Bottom Line: Our results show that phonetic detail of tonal alignment can be successfully modified by both BI and NI speakers when imitating a model speaker of the other variety.Moreover the effect was significantly stronger for low frequency words.Hence, our data show that intonation imitation leads to fast modification of both phonetic and phonological intonation representations including detail of tonal alignment and pitch scaling.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: CNRS, LPL, UMR 7309, Aix-Marseille Université Aix-en-Provence, France ; Institut Universitaire de France Paris, France.

ABSTRACT
The aim of this study was to test whether both phonetic and phonological representations of intonation can be rapidly modified when imitating utterances belonging to a different regional variety of the same language. Our main hypothesis was that tonal alignment, just as other phonetic features of speech, would be rapidly modified by Italian speakers when imitating pitch accents of a different (Southern) variety of Italian. In particular, we tested whether Bari Italian (BI) speakers would produce later peaks for their native rising L + H(*) (question pitch accent) in the process of imitating Neapolitan Italian (NI) rising L(*) + H accents. Also, we tested whether BI speakers are able to modify other phonetic properties (pitch level) as well as phonological characteristics (changes in tonal composition) of the same contour. In a follow-up study, we tested if the reverse was also true, i.e., whether NI speakers would produce earlier peaks within the L(*) + H accent in the process of imitating the L + H(*) of BI questions, despite the presence of a contrast between two rising accents in this variety. Our results show that phonetic detail of tonal alignment can be successfully modified by both BI and NI speakers when imitating a model speaker of the other variety. The hypothesis of a selective imitation process preventing alignment modifications in NI was hence not supported. Moreover the effect was significantly stronger for low frequency words. Participants were also able to imitate other phonetic cues, in that they modified global utterance pitch level. Concerning phonological convergence, speakers modified the tonal specification of the edge tones in order to resemble that of the other variety by either suppressing or increasing the presence of a final H%. Hence, our data show that intonation imitation leads to fast modification of both phonetic and phonological intonation representations including detail of tonal alignment and pitch scaling.

No MeSH data available.