Intonation description using the English ToBI framework: A hands-on tutorial

Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science
Autumn 2000

Waves Tutorial, etc.
UNIX basics
Setting up your account
Controling play/record volume
Playing sound from prompt
Opening files in waves
Waves mouse buttons
Viewing ToBI examples/exercises
Setting waves parameters

Class Overhead Slides
Meeting 1 [.pdf] [.ps]
Meeting 2 [.pdf] [.ps]
Meeting 3 [.pdf] [.ps]
Meeting 4 [.pdf] [.ps]
Meeting 5 [.pdf][.ps]

Hmk 1
Hmk 2
Hmk 3
Hmk 4

Recommended Readings
All readings

English ToBI Resources
English ToBI homepage

Other ToBI Systems
Japanese ToBI
other ToBIs



Meeting 1 (Oct 18):  Introduction, overview of a ToBI transcription, categorical vs. non-categorical aspects of intonation, "reading" pitch tracks and waveforms, segmental perturbations.

Meeting 2 (Nov 1):  Overview of prosodic structure and levels of prominence, text-tune association, H*, L+H*, L*, common contour types.

Meeting 3 (Nov 8):  Prosodic phrasing, phrase accents and boundary tones.

Meeting 4 (Nov 29):  Review of tonal 'syntax' and accent inventory, L*+H and timing distinctiveness.

Meeting 5 (Dec 13):  Downstep, !H*, H+!H*, labeler agreement on tone types, tone confusions.

Course Description

Linguists have long noted that intonation plays an important role in the understanding and interpretation of spoken language. The way in which an utterance is intoned can provide a wealth of information about the speaker's intentions, his/her social identity, etc., and can cue linguistic structure at many levels of the grammar, including the phonology, syntax, pragmatics, and discourse. The study of how intonation relates to such structures has been the subject of much theoretical and applied language research. However, in order to explore this relationship, one must first have a systematic and reliable means by which to describe the intonational patterns of a language. The ToBI (Tones and Break Indices) framework is one such system of describing intonation, which has been adopted by many researchers as a "standard" for describing the contrastive events in intonational contours of English (and extended to other languages), and for tagging these events in large-scale spoken language databases. 

This tutorial provides a hands-on introduction to the English ToBI theory of intonational structure, and the associated labeling scheme used to tag spoken utterances. We will use examples from various databases in order to analyze the prosodic structuring and distinctive phonological events present in English intonation contours. The tutorial will cover in varying degrees of depth the notions of stress and accent, tonal inventories (including pitch accents and phrasal (boundary) tones), prosodic phrasal parsing, and intonational meaning. The purpose of this short tutorial is three-fold: (1) to gain an understanding of some issues involved in constructing tagging schemes for spoken language, (2) to gain enough knowledge of English intonation to be able to interpret the literature on intonation interfaces which use this framework, and (3) to develop the practical prosodic labeling skills sought out by speech industries. 

Some more details: 
WHO?  Jennifer Venditti (RuCCS) and Matthew Stone (RuCCS/Computer Science) 
WHEN?  AlternateWednesdays (starting 10/18), 10am-11:20am 
WHERE?  Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science VILLAGE lab (A102) or playroom (A139) 
HOW?  Hands-on computer-aided labeling, mini-homeworks, and totally optional readings. 
WHY?  Because intonation is fun (and under-studied).

(732) 445-6124 (phone) 
(732) 445-6715 (fax)