Prosodic cues of genuine and mock impoliteness in German and Polish

Author(s): Bistra Andreeva, Silvia Bonacchi and William Barry

Abstract

Banter utterances can always switch from a face-enhancing to a face-threatening or aggressive act. Little is known about the prosodic expression of genuine (derogatory) vs. mock (supportive) impoliteness in German and Polish. To determine whether the face-enhancing vs. face-threatening realizations of an utterance correlate with specific accent patterns and different prosodic cues in the speech signal, four utterances were recorded by four German and four Polish speakers (2f/2m for each language) in the two attitude conditions, derogatory vs. supportive. Acoustic analysis reveals that derogatory utterances are characterized by higher intensity and lower f0 variability (expressed as f0 standard deviation) in both languages. Polish speakers employ a wider intensity range than German speakers. German speakers produce their supportive utterances at a faster tempo. It was also found that the languages differ in the nuclear pitch-accent types used in the different conditions. The Polish speakers show a strong preference for rising accent patterns in the supportive and falling patterns in the derogatory condition. In a perception experiment, 29 German and 49 Polish subjects rated the 32 utterances recorded in their language on an uncalibrated ‘degree-of-friendliness’ scale. The results confirm that listeners are able to discriminate between genuine and mock impoliteness.

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