An investigation of discourse prosody in naturally occuring read text

Smith, Raymond (1997) An investigation of discourse prosody in naturally occuring read text. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This dissertation investigates the relationship between onset pitch height and topic/paragraph initiality. A review of the literature shows that initiality is usually signalled by high onset pitch.
This study uses naturally occurring spoken data taken from the Spoken English Corpus, which is a collection of mostly read or prepared monologue. Two types of read text; news broadcasts and a short story were analysed to ascertain whether findings in the literature were generalisable across text types.
The prosodic transcriptions of the texts were used to identi& the onset syllables. The corresponding fi.indamental frequencies were then measured and recorded.
It was found that the news readings largely conformed to past findings. Paragraph initial onsets had significantly higher fundamental frequency than sentence onsets. However, the fictional narrative did not show this tendency.
The results suggest that increases in complexity of text structure are reflected in the prosodic structure.

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