Dept. of Appl. Electron., Sci. Univ. of Tokyo, 2641 Yamazaki, Noda, 278 Japan
While it is generally believed that prosody of a spoken message conveys information concerning its syntactic structure, there exist many cases where prosody and syntax are discordant. The discordance, however, does not usually cause any difficulty in comprehension. The present study aims at elucidating the process whereby the prosodic structure is determined in speech production, as well as the process whereby it is utilized in speech perception. Using the contour of the voice fundamental frequency as an index, this paper shows examples of such discordance in utterances of various languages including English, Japanese, and Chinese, and presents an interpretation for the origin of the discordance, based on a model of the cognitive processes involved in message generation and speech production. The role of such discordance in speech preception and message comprehension is also discussed, referring to the cognitive processes involved. Finally, the implication of these results for speech synthesis by rule and automatic speech understanding is also mentioned.