rhythm typology

Another interspeech paper, this on the iambic-trochaic law and the typology of rhythm:

Wagner, M., Iturralde Zurita, A., and Zhang, S. (in press). Parsing speech for grouping and prominence, and the typology of rhythm. Proceedings of Insterspeech in Brno. [paper]

You can try out a version of the experiment at prosodylab field station!

Humans appear to be wired to perceive acoustic events rhythmically.
English speakers, for example, tend to perceive alternating short and long sounds as a series of binary groups with a final beat (iambs), and alternating soft and loud sounds as a series of trochees. This generalization, often called the ‘Iambic-trochaic Law’ (ITL), although viewed as an auditory universal by some, has been argued to be shaped by language experience.
Earlier work on the ITL had a crucial limitation, in that it did not tease apart the percepts of grouping and prominence, which the notions of iamb and trochee inherently confound. We explore how intensity and duration relate to percepts of prominence and grouping in six languages (English, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish). The results show that the ITL is not universal, and that cue interpretation is shaped by language experience. However, there are also invariances: Duration appears relatively robust across languages as a cue to prominence (longer syllables are perceived as stressed), and intensity for grouping (louder syllables are perceived as initial). The results show the beginnings of a rhythmic typology based on how the dimensions of grouping and prominence are cued.


At this fall’s interspeech, we’ll be presenting a paper on our prosoBeast, an annotation tool for looking at intonation:

Gerazov B. and M. Wagner (in press). ProsoBeast Prosody Annotation Tool. Proceedings of Insterspeech in Brno. ArXiv e-prints. [paper] [git]

The labelling of speech corpora is a laborious and time-consuming process. The ProsoBeast Annotation Tool seeks to ease and accelerate this process by providing an interactive 2D representation of the prosodic landscape of the data, in which contours are distributed based on their similarity. This interactive map allows the user to inspect and label the utterances. The tool integrates several state-of-the-art methods for dimensionality reduction and feature embedding, including variational autoencoders. The user can use these to find a good representation for their data. In addition, as most of these methods are stochastic, each can be used to generate an unlimited number of different prosodic maps. The web app then allows the user to seamlessly switch between these alternative representations in the annotation process. Experiments with a sample prosodically rich dataset have shown that the tool manages to find good representations of varied data and is helpful both for annotation and label correction. The tool is released as free software for use by the community.

toward an intonational bestiary: data

After sharing in an ad hoc way since we first presented it, we now released the data from our original bestiary paper on GIT/OSF:

Wagner, M. and Goodhue, D. (2021). Toward a bestiary of English intonational tunes: Data. OSF Project. [doi] [git]

The most recent presentation on this project, a talk at UVic from 2020 that includes interactive plots, can be found here

Experiment: Rhymes in English

Some rhymes sound better than others, and some attempts at rhymes don’t seem to be rhymes at all. Our lab studies constraints on rhyming, and this experiment explores a particular one.

  • You can check out the experiment here (no data will be saved)
  • Or you can participate for real (no compensation) here (your data will be saved)
More …

Experiment: Iambic Trochaic Law

Bolton (1894) and Woodrow (1909) discovered some rhythmic regularities in how English speakers perceive sequences of sounds. This experiment tests one of these regularities, the so-called Iambic-Trochaic-Law.

  • You can check out the experiment here (no data will be saved)
  • Or you can participate for real (no compensation) here (your data will be saved)
More …

rhythm typology

Wagner, Michael, Alvaro Iturralde Zurita, and Sijia Zhang (2021). Two dimensional parsing, the iambic trochaic law, and the typology of rhythm. Short Talk at the CUNY Sentence Processing Conference, UPenn [abstract]  [slides]


More …

homophones and accent placement

Can a homophone antecedent cause deaccentuation?

It turns out yes:

Wagner, Michael (2020). Encoding a semantic contrast requires phonological contrast in English but not in French. Poster presented at the 61st Annual Conference of the Psychonomic Society on Nov 19 2020. [poster]

prosodic focus

Just realized that my handbook article on prosodic focus, to appear in the upcoming Semantics Companion, has gone online on Nov 4 at the publisher’s website:

Wagner, Michael (2021). Prosodic focus. TheWiley Blackwell Companion to Semantics, First Edition. Edited by Daniel Gutzmann, Lisa Matthewson, Cécile Meier, Hotze Rullmann, and Thomas Ede Zimmermann. [doi]

production planning and sandhi @labphon 2020

Kilbourn-Ceron, Oriana & Matt Goldrick (2020): Oral presentation at 6:20 – 6:35pm Pacific Time on July 8 at LabPhon 17, University of British Columbia [abstract]

Wagner, Michael, Josiane Lachapelle, & Oriana Kilbourn-Ceron (2020).  Liaison and production planning. Presentation in Poster session I at 12:00 – 13:30pm Pacific Time on July 6 at LabPhon 17, University of British Columbia [poster]

Link to live poster session (12:00 – 13:30pm Pacific Time on July 6): https://ca.bbcollab.com/guest/62edfe058f954ced974c038055b5aa7a