Prosodic similarity - Evidence from an imitation study

Hansjörg Mixdorff, Jennifer Cole, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Unlike audio recording devices, a human speaker imitating a heard utterance or reading a sentence aloud must formulate a cognitive representation of the linguistic object to guide the phonology and phonetics of the spoken output. The current study used two different production tasks to explore the prosodic aspect of these representations: an imitation experiment in which speakers heard and then imitated spontaneous utterances from a Maptask corpus, and a read enactment task in which speakers read the same sentences aloud from a video display. For each task, the resulting utterances were compared for similarity a) to the original Maptask utterance and b) to each other. Similarity measures included perceptual accent and boundary labels and syllable durations, as well as Fujisaki model-based F0 parameters. The imitations showed strong agreement with the stimulus utterances both in their phonological structure (perceptually labeled accents and boundaries), and in several phonetic cues to prosody from measures of duration and F0. Furthermore, agreement between imitated utterances and the original spoken stimulus was higher than between different imitations. Finally, read and enacted utterances were substantially different from the original spoken stimulus, in terms of their phonology and F0 characteristics, though duration patterns were less variable. Overall, these results are consistent with the view that listeners extract the prosodic form of an utterance in terms of both phonological features and phonetic cues, and that the syntactic and semantic content of the text is not sufficient to determine a reliable prosodic outcome across subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 6th International Conference on Speech Prosody, SP 2012
PublisherTongji University Press
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)9787560848693
StatePublished - 2012
Event6th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2012, SP 2012 - Shanghai, China
Duration: May 22 2012May 25 2012


Other6th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2012, SP 2012


  • Fujisaki model
  • Phonetics and phonology
  • Prosody
  • Spoken imitation
  • Spontaneous speech

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Software
  • Mechanical Engineering


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