Staff Member Projects

Prosody in whispered speech: retrieving alternative cues to pitch

Postdoc:  Willemijn Heeren

The goal of this study is to systematically investigate how intonation (speech melody) is conveyed in whispered speech. A speaker who whispers fails to produce the most important cue to intonation perception, i.e. the fundamental frequency. Assuming that the speaker attempts to accommodate the listener during communication, it is likely that the whispering speaker will compensate for the loss of that cue by exploiting (and exaggerating) alternative acoustic cues to pitch.

Both the presence and nature of alternative acoustic cues to intonation in whispered speech, and their relevance for listeners, will be investigated. This study wlll focus on two frequentc and cross-linguistically relevant functions of intonation: marking of information structure, and clause typing. The intended outcome of this study is a model of intonation in whispered (Dutch) speech for these two funcitons. The results may contribute to a better understanding of the fundamental relation between mental representations of language and their realizations in speech.