Samtalets rytm/Rhythm of conversation

Project leader

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2010
End date: 31/12/2014


The Swedish Research Council (VR) HS, granted the project Rhythm of conversation (Samtalets rytm) 2.9 MSEK for the years 2010-2012 (contract 2009-1766). Applicant: Mattias Heldner.

The project Rhythm of conversation investigated how a set of rhythmic prosodic features contributes to the joint interaction control in conversations. Of particular interest is acoustic descriptions of features related to variations in speech rate (i.e. accelerations and decelerations in speech rate) and loudness (i.e. increases and decreases in loudness), and how these are used for interactional purposes.

Loudness is generally perceived as an important component in the signalling of prosodic functions such as prominence and boundaries (cf. Lehiste & Peterson, 1959). Attempts to capture this impression in acoustic analyses, however, regularly show only weak correlations with these functions (e.g. Fry, 1955; Lieberman, 1960). This has lead much prosodic research to concentrate on melodic prosodic aspects – sometimes to the extent that prosody is equated with pitch. Recent work indicates, however, that loudness may be a strong correlate of such functions, when measured as subjective loudness rather than as physical intensity (Kochanski, Grabe, Coleman, & Rosner, 2005). This is highly unexplored and something we pursue in connection with rhythm as an interactional phenomenon.

We want to find out, for example, whether the speech rate and loudness variations (prosodic features that are complementary to those studied in Prosody in conversation) before pauses (i.e. within-speaker silences) are different from those before gaps (between-speaker silences), or whether they display differences before backchannel-like utterances compared to other utterances.

External Partners

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:39