The interaction of long-term voice quality with the realization of focus

Author(s): Irena Yanushevskaya, Ailbhe Ní Chasaide and Christer Gobl


Voice quality shifts have been shown to be associated with the realisation of accent, focus and deaccentuation. Mostly, accented and focally accented syllables are reported to exhibit a tenser mode of phonation than the unaccented, but accentuation with a laxer/breathier quality is also reported. Possibly, the long-term voice quality of the speaker (or of the utterance) influences the voice quality of accented/unaccented syllables. This paper examines the hypothesis that speakers, if using a tenser mode of phonation in an utterance, signal accentuation more through breathiness than through tenseness. A single informant produced an utterance with three phonation types, modal, breathy and tense, with variable focal placement. The utterances were manually inverse filtered and the voice source parameters F0, EE, UP, RG, OQ, RD were obtained by fitting the LF (Liljencrants-Fant) model to the estimated glottal flow. The change in parameter settings in focally accented syllables was examined relative to the adjacent unaccented syllables. Overall, focally accented syllables are associated with tenser phonation, except in the utterance-initial position where they are associated with breathier voice irrespective of the sentence’s intended phonation type. The voice source modulations in focal accentuation depend on the position of the focal syllable in the phrase.