Fundamental frequency range is generally considered a variable, non-linguistic element of speech intonation. This study examined whether absolute FO is predictable based on previous intonational context and is perceptually significant. Tokyo Japanese speakers produced sentences pairs differing lexically in the presence/absence of one pitch accent, as responses to speech cues. FO placement of high tones was consistent across speakers and uniformly dependent on the cue intonation. Continuous manipulation of these sentences between typical accented and nonaccent-containing versions were then presented to Japanese listeners for lexical identification. Perception was not significantly altered in compensation for artificial manipulation of preceding intonation. Results are generally consistent with the notion that pitch does not vary gradiently across speakers and situations but constitutes a predictable part of the phonetic specification of tones.
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