Assessing F0 patterns in infant-directed speech: A tentative stochastic model 

Lisa Gustafsson and Francisco Lacerda

Fonetik 2002, the XVth Swedish Phonetics Conference, Fysikcentrum, Stockholm, May 29 - 31, 2002. Quartely Progress and Status Report (Department of Speech, Music and Hearing and Centre for Speech Technology, KTH, Stockholm) 44: .


This paper reports an attempt to detect possible regularities in the patterns of F0-contours typically occurring in infant-directed speech (IDS). Since 8-months oldinfants can detect syllable-like structures on the basis of their transitionalprobabilities (Saffran, Aslin, & Newport, 1996) and also show a generalpreference for F0 modulations characteristic of infant-directed speech, potentiallyrecurrent patterns in the F0-contours may play an important role in the infantísinitial structuring of the perceived speech. The study used a limited sample of IDSto attempt to disclose possible recurrent patterns of F0 variation regardless oftheir underlying linguistic and phonetic significance. The variation of the originalF0 contours was quantified in steps representing different ranges of F0 slopes. Thesequences of quantified slopes were processed as descriptions of the variationpattern from which the transitional probabilities from a slope to another wereextracted. These transitional probabilities were then expressed in terms of anautomaton which was tested in its ability to generate plausible IDS F0-contours.

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