School of Languages and Linguistics - Research Publications

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    The Pacific Expansion: Optimizing phonetic transcription of archival corpora
    Billington, R ; Stoakes, H ; Thieberger, N (ISCA-INT SPEECH COMMUNICATION ASSOC, 2021)
    For most of the world’s languages, detailed phonetic analyses across different aspects of the sound system do not exist, due in part to limitations in available speech data and tools for efficiently processing such data for low-resource languages. Archival language documentation collections offer opportunities to extend the scope and scale of phonetic research on low-resource languages, and developments in methods for automatic recognition and alignment of speech facilitate the preparation of phonetic corpora based on these collections. We present a case study applying speech modelling and forced alignment methods to narrative data for Nafsan, an Oceanic language of central Vanuatu. We examine the accuracy of the forced-aligned phonetic labelling based on limited speech data used in the modelling process, and compare acoustic and durational measures of 17,851 vowel tokens for 11 speakers with previous experimental phonetic data for Nafsan. Results point to the suitability of archival data for large-scale studies of phonetic variation in low-resource languages, and also suggest that this approach can feasibly be used as a starting point in expanding to phonetic comparisons across closely-related Oceanic languages.
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    Scaling processes of clause chains in Pitjantjatjara
    Defina, R ; Torres, C ; Stoakes, H (Interspeech, 2020)
    Clause chains are a syntactic strategy for combining multiple clauses into a single unit. They are reported in many languages, including Korean and Turkish. However, they have seen relatively little focused research. In particular, prosodic features are often mentioned in descriptions of clause chaining, however there have been vanishingly few investigations. Corpus-based studies of the prosody of clause chains in two unrelated languages of Papua New Guinea report that they are typically produced as a sequence of Intonation phrases united by pitch-scaling of the L% boundary tones in each clause with only the final, finite, clause descending to a full L%. The present study is the first experimental investigation of the prosody of clause chains in Pitjantjatjara. This paper focuses on one type of clause chain found in the Australian Indigenous language Pitjantjatjara. We examine a set of 120 clause chains read out by three native Pitjantjatjara speakers. Prosodic analysis reveals that these Pitjantjatjara clause chains are produced within a single Intonational Phrase. Speakers do not pause between the clauses in the chain, there is consistent linear downstep throughout the phrase and additionally phrase final lowering occurs at the end of the utterance. This differs from previous impressionistic studies of the prosody of clause chains.