Colin W. Wightman
Dept. of Elec. Eng., New Mexico Inst. of Mining and Technol., Socorro, NM 87801
In both read and spontaneous speech, phrasal prominences play an important role in conveying the speaker's intent. Prominences serve both to mark important discourse-related events in the conversation and help to resolve ambiguities at several levels. Many speech researchers report the intuition that there are several levels of prominence, that is, that some prominences are bigger than others. Nonetheless, attempts to train human labelers to mark multiple levels of prominence have not been successful: while there was agreement on the location of prominences, there was little agreement between labelers on the level to be assigned to each. Here, an alternative approach, using a panel of naive listeners to mark prominences in a corpus of spontaneous speech has been taken. Instead of marking multiple levels of prominence, a simple binary labeling was used by each labeler and the level of each prominence determined by the number of labelers marking it. In this paper, the results of this preliminary study are presented, and the relationships between the estimated levels of prominence and the acoustic correlates of vowel lengthening, syllable lengthening, and pitch level and excursion are investigated.