Between-and within-speaker effects of bilingualism on F0 variation

Rob Voigt, Dan Jurafsky, Meghan Sumner

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


To what extent is prosody shaped by cultural and social factors? Existing research has shown that an individual bilingual speaker exhibits differences in framing, ideology, and personality when speaking their two languages. To understand whether these differences extend to prosody we study F0 variation in a corpus of interviews with German-Italian and German-French bilingual speakers. We find two primary effects. First, a betweenspeaker effect: these two groups of bilinguals make different use of F0 even when they are all speaking German. Second, a within-speaker effect: bilinguals use F0 differently depending on which language they are speaking, differences that are consistent across speakers. These effects are modulated strongly by gender, suggesting that language-specific social positioning may play a central role. These results have important implications for our understanding of bilingualism and cross-cultural linguistic difference in general. Prosody appears to be a moving target rather than a stable feature, as speakers use prosodic variation to position themselves on cultural and social axes like linguistic context and gender.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1122-1126
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, INTERSPEECH
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016
Event17th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, INTERSPEECH 2016 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Sep 8 2016Sep 16 2016


  • Bilingualism
  • Cross-cultural differences
  • F0
  • Prosody
  • Sociophonetic variation
  • Speaking fundamental frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Signal Processing
  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation


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