Chapter published in:In Search of Basic Units of Spoken Language: A corpus-driven approach
Edited by Shlomo Izre'el, Heliana Mello, Alessandro Panunzi and Tommaso Raso
[Studies in Corpus Linguistics 94] 2020
► pp. 349–358
Basic units of speech segmentation
The segmentation of the monologue Navy and the dialogue Hearts described here is based solely on the acoustic signal. The unit of reference is the intonation unit as defined in the work of Chafe, characterized by a single, coherent pitch contour. Units defined by pitch often coincide with intensity, pauses, rhythm, and phonation type, though not always. In English they typically begin with a pitch reset followed by declination. Series of intonation units often form larger prosodic sentences, which can show an overall declination in pitch, often with intermediate pitch resets at the beginning of each unit. As shown by Chafe (1987, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2018), each unit tends to convey one new idea or focus of consciousness. They often correlate with syntactic constituents or sentences, though not always.
Keywords: intonation unit, prosodic phrase, pitch reset, declination, prosodic sentences
Published online: 18 June 2020