Elicitation techniques for cross-linguistic research on professional and non-professional speaking styles

Author(s): Plinio Barbosa and Sandra Madureira


This paper presents a detailed report on previous experiences with the elicitation of speech material for cross-linguistic research in both professional and non-professional speaking styles. Two main methodological issues arise in cross-linguistic research: to ensure a parallel corpus for appropriate comparisons across languages, and to ensure that perception tests based on the elicited material induce behaviours or assessments of listeners in similar conditions. Professional speaking styles usually require a control condition for comparison, and this is not easy to obtain. This problem is still more crucial when it needs to be addressed cross-linguistically. Both the collected material and the process for obtaining it taught us some important lessons over and above asking for the help of phonetically trained native speakers of the involved languages: extended amounts of spontaneous speech can be obtained from interviews with close friends; these interviews can be read by the same speakers to ensure a comparison between read and spontaneous speech, a comparison which can be done in several languages; regarding perception, the stimuli used for testing can come from different languages if a delexicalisation procedure is used; both for reading and narration, text choice has consequences on listeners' behaviour.


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