Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Speech Melody Controls Alternation Of Speakers

Date:
October 9, 2001
Source:
Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research
Summary:
Dr Johanneke Caspers, an NWO-funded linguistics researcher, has observed how speakers of Dutch use speech melody to indicate that they wish to continue speaking during a conversation. Melodic cues prove especially important when the sentence structure suggests that they have in fact finished speaking.

Dr Johanneke Caspers, an NWO-funded linguistics researcher, has observed how speakers of Dutch use speech melody to indicate that they wish to continue speaking during a conversation. Melodic cues prove especially important when the sentence structure suggests that they have in fact finished speaking.

In a normal conversation between two people, the speakers take over from one another very rapidly. The question is how each lets the other know when he or she can start speaking. It is usually the sentence structure which provides the most important information, whilst melodic cues only play an auxiliary role.

The melodic cue that Dr Caspers has identified is an exception to this general principle. There are moments in a conversation when one of the speakers has reached the end of a complete sentence and wishes to pause for a few tenths of a second without the other person taking over the conversation. At such moments, the speaker can make use of melodic cues to indicate that he wishes to continue. To signal this intention, the speaker raises the pitch on the final stressed syllable and maintains this pitch until the subsequent pause. Dr Caspers discovered that the same melodic form has a similar function in English.

In the study at Leiden University, test subjects were played short recorded fragments of conversation. The conversations were electronically truncated at points when the speakers changed or when one of them paused briefly. At the end of each fragment, subjects indicated whether they expected the speaker to continue speaking or the other person to take over. The subject could also indicate whether the other speaker would merely produce an affirmative sound (such as ‘hmmm’ or ‘yes’), prompting the original speaker to keep talking.

In grammatically incomplete sentence fragments, it was the sentence structure that played the overriding role. No matter what melodic configuration the speaker used, hardly any of the subjects expected the other speaker to take over after the short pause. In grammatically complete fragments, however, speech melody played a much greater role. Here the rise in pitch signalling the speaker’s intention to continue speaking had a strong effect. When such a rise in pitch occurred, as many as 91% of the test subjects thought that the speaker would continue speaking, possibly after the other person made a short affirmative sound. In the absence of such a rise in pitch, only 34% to 54% thought so.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research. "Speech Melody Controls Alternation Of Speakers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011009071138.htm>.
Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research. (2001, October 9). Speech Melody Controls Alternation Of Speakers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011009071138.htm
Netherlands Organization For Scientific Research. "Speech Melody Controls Alternation Of Speakers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011009071138.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins