Prosodic characteristics of canonical and non-canonical questions in Estonian

Heete Sahkai, Eva Liina Asu, Pärtel Lippus
2022 Speech Prosody 2022   unpublished
This paper presents a comparison of the prosodic characteristics of canonical questions with two types of non-canonical interrogative utterances in Estonian. The data consisted of string-identical interrogative sentences with the question-word kuidas ('how') elicited in three readings: information-seeking question (ISQ), rhetorical question (RQ) and surprise question (SQ). A three-way distinction between the three utterance types emerged. First, there was a binary distinction between canonical
more » ... nd non-canonical questions in mean pitch, utterance duration and voice quality: non-canonical questions were characterised by lower mean pitch, longer duration and a larger proportion of non-modal (creaky) voice quality. Second, there was a three-way distinction in pitch range: ISQs had the narrowest and SQs the widest pitch range while RQs were in-between the two. Third, SQs were further distinguished from ISQs and RQs by a different placement of focal accent and the accentuation of pronouns. There were, however, no differences in intonational pitch accent types and boundary tones between the three utterance types. The results imply that the lower mean pitch signals the indirect illocutionary force of the non-canonical questions while the longer duration, non-modal voice quality and larger pitch range indicate their affective nature. SQs are additionally associated with a specific information structure.
doi:10.21437/speechprosody.2022-28 fatcat:dawr2ptbuzawfe3cpj5vrq262m