The probabilistic relationship between pitch accents and information status in public speech

Suyeon Im, Jennifer Cole, Stefan Baumann

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Pitch accents encode semantic or pragmatic meaning in English [1], [2]. This study examines the relationship between pitch accent assignment and information status (IS), adopting the richer IS scheme of RefLex [3], in an intact sample of public speech from a TEDTalk. 361 words from the speech sample were annotated for IS specified in terms of referential, lexical, and alternative (focus) conditions. Results show different effects of referential vs. lexical givenness on accent assignment. Only referential givenness has the expected effect of given words being (mostly) unaccented. The TEDTalk speaker uses accent differently from what has been reported in prior work [4], with a much more variable distribution of accent across IS conditions, and an overall weaker probabilistic association between accent and IS. This study demonstrates the necessity of distinguishing lexical and referential givenness, and the effect of speech style on prosodic variability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-511
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the International Conference on Speech Prosody
StatePublished - 2018
Event9th International Conference on Speech Prosody, SP 2018 - Poznan, Poland
Duration: Jun 13 2018Jun 16 2018


  • Information status
  • Pitch accent
  • Prosodic prominence
  • Speech style

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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