Perception of prosodic social affects in Japanese: A free-labeling study

Author(s): Marine Guerry, Albert Rilliard, Donna Erickson and Takaaki Shochi


This paper presents an examination of the variable lexical labels used by listeners to identify 16 social affective expressions in Japanese language, in audiovisual presentations. A free-labeling task allows an open approach to variability in the perception of social affects, that is constrained by pre-defined force-choice paradigms. 27 L1 Japanese listeners participated in the experiment. Subjects were asked to write down one word (noun or adjective) that best describes the intended expression they perceived from the speaker in each stimulus. Results cluster into coherent groups - relative to the expressions intended by the speakers. One Japanese-specific social affect, kyoshuku forms one cluster by itself among the 8 main clusters. This result emphasizes its specificity in Japanese culture: this expression was not singularized the same way by L1 French listeners from the same situation. The results also indicate the importance of a separation between assertive and dubitative speech acts in the meanin carried by prosody.