Examples of emphasis categories in German

 

 



Oliver Niebuhr (2007). Examples of emphasis categories in German.

O. Niebuhr, Institute of Phonetics and Digital Speech Processing (IPDS), Christian-Albrecht-University, Kiel, Germany



This document presents examples for different emphasis categories in German. Starting from the comprehensive and meaning-based systematization of emphasis for languages like German and English by Kohler (2006), the emphasis categories dealt with in the present document are defined as perceptual salience which is based on phonetic parameters and used to intensify verbal meaning. With regard to Kohler (2006) and Niebuhr (2006), at least three intensifications have to be differentiated: a positive, a negative, and a neutral one. The corresponding emphasis categories are called positive emphasis (P), negative emphasis (N), and reinforcement (R). Furthermore, different from emotion and its subtypes, emphasis is not a global phenomenon of the complete phrase, but manifests as local changes around the accented syllable of the corresponding word.

The examples come from a corpus of expressive read speech, which was recorded to elicit the different emphasis categories on specific target words without explicit instructions and the use of actors in order to get as authentic data as possible. To this end, four pairs of speakers were selected. Each pair consisted of one female and one male speaker, who were good friends for a long time to create a relaxed atmosphere in the recording lab. Moreover, dialogues and monologues were constructed to elicit the different emphasis categories on the target words just by composing appropriate semantic-pragmatic contexts. Additionally, the speakers of a pair were instructed to judge the productions of each other and to repeat a single dialogue or monologue, until a satisfactory natural-sounding version was reached. This procedure was done twice by the two speakers, with reversed roles. So, finally, all dialogue parts and monologues were read by all speakers. Each recording session took between one and two hours. In this way, almost 530 instances of emphatic accents were produced by the 8 speakers. The accents were classified by the author (on) as either P, N, or R on the basis of functional interpretations, i.e. without direct reference to phonetic properties. The labelled P, N, and R accents were then subjected to acoustic analyses.

The acoustic analyses corroborated the differentiation between the emphasis types P, N, and R. They differ in many phonetic parameters, i.e. each type of emphasis has a characteristic, multi-dimensional phonetic profile. For further details, see Kohler and Niebuhr (2007).

In summary, P and N emphasis differ (significantly, i.e. p<0.05) in the following parameters:

  • As regards intonation, N emphasis is more frequently accompanied by early peaks in terms of KIM (similar to H+L* in GToBI) than P emphasis. Furthermore, P emphasis stresses high F0 compared with N emphasis. That is, the rising-falling F0 peaks of accented syllables realized in connection with P emphasis show a plateau around the peak maximum, which is less pronounced or completely absent in the case of accents with N emphasis.
  • As regards intensity, N emphasis is marked by a more abrupt increase in intensity after the onset of the accented vowel than P emphasis (for absolute as well as for relative duration measures). Moreover, voiceless fricatives (/f, S/) in the onset of the accented syllable have a comparably high intensity for N and P emphasis.
  • As regards voice quality, accented (open) vowels in N emphasis contexts have a tense voice compared with the same vowel quality in the context of P emphasis. This comparison is based on H1/H2 measurements around the vowel centre. Simultaneously, the frequencies of the first two formants F1 and F2 differ not significantly between the two emphasis conditions.
  • As regards duration, accented CV syllables in the case of P emphasis show an extended vocalic portion in favour of the duration of the initial consonant. The opposite holds for the C and V durations in connection with N emphasis

The preceding results are illustrated in the following by contrastive examples of P and N emphasis.


Example 1: “ich bin echt begeistert”
Relevant accented syllable: „gei“ of „begeistert“
First: female speaker (kla) with positive emphasis on the accented syllable (see Fig. 1a)
Second: male speaker (fsc) with negative emphasis on the accented syllable (see Fig. 1b)

null Figure 1: Sections of the utterance “ich bin echt begeistert” produced with positive (a) and negative emphasis (b) on the accented syllable “gei”. The latter is framed by vertical lines. Within the spectrogram (at the bottom), the F0 and intensity courses are represented by blue or yellow curves. Analyses were done in praat.

Example 2: “Mann, ich sag dir…” / „oh Mann, guck dir das an“
Relevant accented syllable: „Mann“
First: male speaker (ara) with positive emphasis on the accented syllable (see Fig. 2a)
Second: female speaker (kla) with negative emphasis on the accented syllable (see Fig. 2b)

null Figure 2: Sections of the utterances “Mann, ich sag dir…” / “oh Mann, guck dir das an” produced with positive (a) and negative emphasis (b) on the accented syllable “Mann”. The latter is framed by vertical lines. Within the spectrogram (at the bottom), the F0 and intensity courses are represented by blue or yellow curves. Analyses were done in praat.

Example 3: “wie das stinkt” / „boa, das stinkt“
Relevant accented syllable: „stinkt“
First: female speaker (fsc) with positive emphasis on the accented syllable (see Fig. 3a)
Second: female speaker (kla) with negative emphasis on the accented syllable (see Fig. 3b)

null Figure 3: Sections of the utterances “wie/boa das stinkt” produced with positive (a) and negative emphasis (b) on the accented syllable “stinkt”. The latter is framed by vertical lines. Within the spectrogram (at the bottom), the F0 and intensity courses are represented by blue or yellow curves. Analyses were done in praat.

Example 4: “und erst der Feigling” / „widerlicher Feigling“
Relevant accented syllable: „Feig” of “Feigling”
First: female speaker (kla) with positive emphasis on the accented syllable (see Fig. 4a)
Second: female speaker (kla) with negative emphasis on the accented syllable (see Fig. 4b)

null Figure 4: Sections of the utterances “und erst der Feigling” / „widerlicher Feigling“ produced with positive (a) and negative emphasis (b) on the accented syllable “Feig”. The latter is framed by vertical lines. Within the spectrogram (at the bottom), the F0 and intensity courses are represented by blue or yellow curves. Analyses were done in praat.


Furthermore, the differences between R emphasis on the one hand and P and N emphasis on the other can be summarized as follows:

  • As regards intonation, R emphasis shows no preference for a specific intonation category. However, like in the case of N emphasis, F0 peaks in the context of R emphasis do not show a plateau around the peak maximum. In this way, R and N peaks differ significantly from the F0 peaks of P emphasis.
  • As regards intensity, R emphasis is marked by a more abrupt increase in intensity after the onset of the accented vowel than P emphasis. However, simultaneously, the increase in intensity is also less abrupt than the one found for N emphasis. Moreover, voiceless fricatives (/f, S/) in the onset of the accented syllable have a higher intensity compared with N and P emphasis.
  • As regards voice quality, accented (open) vowels in N emphasis contexts have a tense voice compared with the same vowel quality in the context of R emphasis. The voice qualities produced in connection with R and P emphasis do not differ. These comparisons are based on H1/H2 measurements around the vowel centre.
  • As regards duration, the relative differences found for the C and V elements of the accented syllables produced in connection with R and P emphasis are largely comparable to the differences found for N and P emphasis. So, N and R do not differ in this respect. However, different from N and P, R emphasis leads to a significant lengthening of the pre-accented syllable.

The following pairs of examples show instances of R emphasis in comparison with either P emphasis (5-6) or N emphasis (7-8).


Example 5: “das hat sich enorm verbessert“
Relevant accented syllable: „norm” of “enorm”
First: female speaker (ali) with reinforcement on the accented syllable (see Fig. 5a)
Second: male speaker (skr) with positive emphasis on the accented syllable (see Fig. 5b)

null Figure 5: Sections of the utterances “das hat sich enorm verbessert” produced with reinforcement (a) and positive emphasis (b) on the accented syllable “norm”. The latter is framed by vertical lines. Within the spectrogram (at the bottom), the F0 and intensity courses are represented by blue or yellow curves. Analyses were done in praat.

Example 6: “das hast du toll gemacht“
Relevant accented syllable: „toll"
First: female speaker (ape) with positive emphasis on the accented syllable (see Fig. 6a)
Second: male speaker (bpe) with reinforcement on the accented syllable (see Fig. 6b)

null Figure 6: Sections of the utterances “das hast du toll gemacht” produced with positive emphasis (a) and reinforcement (b) on the accented syllable “toll”. The latter is framed by vertical lines. Within the spectrogram (at the bottom), the F0 and intensity courses are represented by blue or yellow curves. Analyses were done in praat.

Example 7: “verdammt noch mal“
Relevant accented syllable: „dammt” of “verdammt”
First: female speaker (bpe) with reinforcement on the accented syllable (see Fig. 7a)
Second: male speaker (ara) with negative emphasis on the accented syllable (see Fig. 7b)

null Figure 7: Sections of the utterances “verdammt noch mal” produced with reinforcement (a) and negative emphasis (b) on the accented syllable “dammt”. The latter is framed by vertical lines. Within the spectrogram (at the bottom), the F0 and intensity courses are represented by blue or yellow curves. Analyses were done in praat.

Example 8: “sowas Beschissenes“
Relevant accented syllable: „schiss” of “Beschissenes”
First: male speaker (bpe) with reinforcement on the accented syllable (see Fig. 8a) Second: female speaker (kla) with negative emphasis on the accented syllable (see Fig. 8b)

null Figure 8: Sections of the utterances “sowas Beschissenes” produced with reinforcement (a) and negative emphasis (b) on the accented syllable “schiss”. The latter is framed by vertical lines. Within the spectrogram (at the bottom), the F0 and intensity courses are represented by blue or yellow curves. Analyses were done in praat.



Letzte Aktualisierung / last updated: 23.08.2007
© O. Niebuhr,
on@ipds.uni-kiel.de, Phone: +49 (0)461-940-3993