ToBI ( // ; an abbreviation of tones and break indices) is a set of conventions for transcribing and annotating the prosody of speech. The term "ToBI" is sometimes used to refer to the conventions used for describing American English specifically, which was the first ToBI system, developed by Mary Beckman and Janet Pierrehumbert, among others. Other ToBI systems have been defined for a number of languages; for example, J-ToBI refers to the ToBI conventions for Tokyo Japanese, and an adaptation of ToBI to describe Dutch intonation was developed by Carlos Gussenhoven, and called ToDI. Another variation of ToBI, called IViE (Intonational Variation in English), was established in 1998 to enable comparison between several dialects of British English.
A full ToBI transcription consists of six parts: (a) an audio recording, (b) an electronic print-out or paper record of the F0 (fundamental pitch), (c) a tones tier, with an analysis of the tonal events in terms of H and L, (d) a words tier with the words of the utterance in ordinary writing, (e) a break-index tier showing the strength of the junctures, and (f) a miscellaneous tier with comments.
Tonal events include pitch accents, phrase accents, and boundary tones.
Pitch accents, written as H* or L* (high and low tones, respectively), are typically realized on words that carry the most information in a sentence. For example, in the sentence "Mary went to the store to get some milk", a natural pronunciation would include pitch accents on "Mary", "store", and "milk". Other kinds of pitch accents include L*+H (a syllable which starts with a low accent and then rises) and L+H* (again low-high on one syllable, but with the second part accented).
Phrase accents, written H- or L-, are the tones between a pitch accent and a boundary tone. For example, the intonation at the end of a question might be H*L-H%, indicating that the pitch starts high, falls to a low, and rises again; or L*H-H%, indicating that the pitch starts low, then rises steadily to a high.
Boundary tones, written with H% and L%, are affiliated not to words but to phrase edges. For example, the sentence "Mary went to the store" can be pronounced as a statement or a question ("Mary went to the store." vs. "Mary went to the store?"). The contrast between the statement and the question is signalled by a boundary tone at the end of the phrase: a low boundary tone causes a falling pitch contour, signalling the statement, whereas a high boundary tone causes a rising pitch contour, signalling the question.[ citation needed ]
Break indices are numbers indicating how strong the break is between words:
The English ToBI standard distinguishes four or five levels of boundary strength, corresponding roughly to breaks between constituents at different levels of the Prosodic Hierarchy.One signal of boundary strength is lengthening of the preceding syllable: the stronger the boundary, the more lengthening of the preceding syllable. In some versions, level 2 is omitted.
Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning—that is, to distinguish or to inflect words. All oral languages use pitch to express emotional and other para-linguistic information and to convey emphasis, contrast and other such features in what is called intonation, but not all languages use tones to distinguish words or their inflections, analogously to consonants and vowels. Languages that have this feature are called tonal languages; the distinctive tone patterns of such a language are sometimes called tonemes, by analogy with phoneme. Tonal languages are common in East and Southeast Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Pacific.
In linguistics, and particularly phonology, stress or accent is the relative emphasis or prominence given to a certain syllable in a word or to a certain word in a phrase or sentence. That emphasis is typically caused by such properties as increased loudness and vowel length, full articulation of the vowel, and changes in tone. The terms stress and accent are often used synonymously in that context but are sometimes distinguished. For example, when emphasis is produced through pitch alone, it is called pitch accent, and when produced through length alone, it is called quantitative accent. When caused by a combination of various intensified properties, it is called stress accent or dynamic accent; English uses what is called variable stress accent.
A pitch-accent language is a type of language that, when spoken, has certain syllables in words or morphemes that are prominent, as indicated by a distinct contrasting pitch rather than by loudness or length, as in some other languages like English. Pitch-accent also contrasts with fully tonal languages like Vietnamese, Thai and Standard Chinese, in which practically every syllable can have an independent tone. Some scholars have claimed that the term "pitch accent" is not coherently defined and that pitch-accent languages are just a sub-category of tonal languages in general.
In phonetics, downdrift is the cumulative lowering of pitch in the course of a sentence due to interactions among tones in a tonal language. Downdrift often occurs when the tones in successive syllables are H L H or H L L H. In this case the second high tone tends to be lower than the first. The effect can accumulate so that with each low tone, the pitch of the high tones becomes slightly lower, until the end of the intonational phrase, when the pitch is "reset".
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In linguistics, prosody is the study of elements of speech that are not individual phonetic segments but which are properties of syllables and larger units of speech, including linguistic functions such as intonation, stress, and rhythm. Such elements are known as suprasegmentals.
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Downstep is a phenomenon in tone languages in which if two syllables have the same tone, the second syllable is lower in pitch than the first.
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In linguistics, intonation is the variation in pitch used to indicate the speaker's attitudes and emotions, to highlight or focus an expression, to signal the illocutionary act performed by a sentence, or to regulate the flow of discourse. For example, the English question "Does Maria speak Spanish or French?" is interpreted as a yes-or-no question when it is uttered with a single rising intonation contour, but is interpreted as an alternative question when uttered with a rising contour on "Spanish" and a falling contour on "French". Although intonation is primarily a matter of pitch variation, its effects almost always work hand-in-hand with other prosodic features. Intonation is distinct from tone, the phenomenon where pitch is used to distinguish words or to mark grammatical features.
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Mary Esther Beckman is a Professor Emerita of Linguistics at the Ohio State University.
In linguistics, a prosodic unit is a segment of speech that occurs with specific prosodic properties. These properties can be those of stress, intonation, or tonal patterns.
Metrical phonology is a theory of stress or linguistic prominence. The innovative feature of this theory is that the prominence of a unit is defined relative to other units in the same phrase. For example, in the most common pronunciation of the phrase "doctors use penicillin", the syllable '-ci-' is the strongest or most stressed syllable in the phrase, but the syllable 'doc-' is more stressed than the syllable '-tors'. Previously, generative phonologists and the American Structuralists represented prosodic prominence as a feature that applied to individual phonemes (segments) or syllables. This feature could take on multiple values to indicate various levels of stress. Stress was assigned using the cyclic reapplication of rules to words and phrases.
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The term boundary tone refers to a rise or fall in pitch that occurs in speech at the end of a sentence or other utterance, or, if a sentence is divided into two or more intonational phrases, at the end of each intonational phrase. It can also refer to a low or high intonational tone at the beginning of an utterance or intonational phrase.