Prosodic Event Annotation and Detection in Three Varieties of English

  • Howell, Jonathan (PI)

Project Details


English speakers constantly and effortlessly use prosody, such as accent and phrasing, to communicate beyond the meaning of individual words. Yet our understanding of prosody, and its integration in speech technologies, have lagged behind, particularly so for language varieties that are already underrepresented. While millions of Americans speak African American English (AAE) or Latinx English (LE), these language varieties remain underrepresented in basic and applied research, with negative consequences for speech therapy, education, criminal justice, and employment. This research will result in a corpus of AAE, LE and European American English speech data annotated for prosody, which will be used to improve our scientific understanding of prosody and to create tools for automatic detection of accent and phrase boundaries. A team of 7 students from diverse backgrounds will receive training that will provide a gateway to careers in language and technology.The corpus will include pairs of same-dialect speakers recorded in a map task, a method used to elicit spontaneous, naturalistic speech. The data will be transcribed using automatic speech recognition and hand correction, and automatically segmented into words and individual sounds using forced alignment software. Both trained and untrained coders will annotate the data for sentence accent and boundary using Rapid Prosody Transcription, an established method designed for fast, intuitive prosodic annotation by non-experts. Acoustic information, including duration, pitch, and intensity, will be extracted and used with the annotations to train a machine learning detection model, and to test previous findings about the frequency, distribution, acoustics and perception of accent and boundary in the three English language varieties.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date1/09/2331/08/26


  • National Science Foundation: $507,066.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.