be-bop a doo baap

At the end of the week I’m off on a jolly to BAAP – the colloquium of the British Association of Academic Phoneticians, which I earnestly expect will be a lot of fun. All the papers on /r/! and articulation! and talk-in-interaction!

There’s actually a pretty impressive range of topics in the programme and it’s promising to be an extremely interesting time – lots of new, fresh findings, new technologies, and careful, detailed work on sometimes very subtle speech phenomena. Phonetics is so underrated, I say.

So while things like preparatory swotting up on vowel systems gobble up my time, and until I get back, feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

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10 thoughts on “be-bop a doo baap

  1. Otepoti et al. (2010). “Effects of Finger Food and Bad Coffee on Jaw/Lip Movement: An Ultrasound Investigation.”

    Zuelch, R. (2010). “Conferences, Milk, and Honey: Correlations Between Calorie Consumption Opportunities and Calvinistic Enthusiasm for Colloquia.”

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  2. I can supply a few data points for those papers.

    While this is a language thread, may I ask if anyone in the speech-study business knows when and where arose the “rising inflection at the end of a sentence”, now so prevalent among the young?

    Is it also common in Scotland?

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  3. Short answer: yes, loads of people are studying this question. But the answer is complex.

    I just can’t resist plugging our talk series, PWorkshop, where we recently had a presentation from Jenniver Sullivan, who is looking at one aspect of this rising inflection.

    It seems to be multifaceted – Sullivan’s Irish and Glasgow stuff points to shifting pitch contours on accented syllables. (This is also, I believe, one of the main cues to a German accent in English.) Other influences may be: (1) attempts to keep the floor (by not providing a terminal falling intonation), (2) desire to seem less agressive (question-like intonation may be ‘softer’ than statement-like intonation).

    (With luck, someone working more closely on this topic will comment and correct any mistakes or omissions I’ve made here.)

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  4. I would suggest looking at http://www.languagelog.org. Mark Liberman has several examples of US ‘uptalk’ and his views on it there.

    I have been doing work on Belfast and Glasgow English, which show rising intonation around the last stressed syllable of the sentence. The rises in Belfast and Glasgow have been considered separate from Uptalk in Australian, New Zealand, US and Southern British English. They are considered to have separate origins and be different in their overall ‘shape’. However, there have been very few comparisons of the Belfast/Glasgow phenomenon with Uptalk.

    My work so far shows a clear difference between Belfast and Glasgow. In Glasgow, there is a rise up on the stressed syllable following by a fall. In Belfast, the rise continues until almost the end of the sentence. The main difference between statements and questions in the Glasgow and Belfast data so far is that questions contain a bigger rise than statements.

    Rises are not just typical of question intonation but also of
    continuation intonation, for example, when the speaker wishes to hold their turn, or when they are reciting items in a list. The Belfast statement rise seems more similar to continuation rises than to question rises, suggesting a connection between them.

    The main difference between the Belfast statement rise and Uptalk is possibly that the Belfast rise does not have as large a rise as Uptalk rises and does not have a questioning attitude. It is still difficult for me to examine whether Uptalk is infiltrating Belfast speech or not.

    However, there are indications that Uptalk is pervading young female speech in Glasgow English and this is quite different from the Glasgow rise that I have already described. In conversation, some Glasgow speakers produce rises to indicate a questioning attitude or to check that the listener is following them. These rises are not followed by the fall that is present in the other Glasgow rises and they do not seem to occur in non-conversational speech.

    Everything I have said here is tentative as I am not directly comparing the Belfast/Glasgow rises to Uptalk.

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  5. Thanks Jennifer! This is extremely useful. Uptalk has seeped into public consciousness, but there is so much more going on, prosodically, than most people realise! I’m back from BAAP, which was extremely interesting from start to finish, and am all fired up phonetically!

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  6. Whew, I can see that there is no such thing as an idle question on ninety-six and ten. Thank you for those replies.

    May I also wish you all a blesssed and happy Easter.

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