Stylistic variation in the intonation of European Portuguese teenagers and adults

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The present study aims to investigate intonation contours in phrase-final position, in a corpus of spontaneous and prepared unscripted presentations from teenagers (14–15 years old) and adults, collected in a school context. Taking into account the differences between phrasing levels (ToBI breaks 3 and 4), we show that the frequency of low/falling vs. high/rising contours – mainly (H+)L L and (L+)H H – varies across oral presentation types. Adults and teenagers follow distinct strategies, though cross-gender differences are also a source of variation. We interpret these changes as an adaptation effect to the speaking styles specifically required at school, which call for the speaker′s effort to speak clearly and to keep the listeners attention, and ultimately as “intelligibility-oriented” speaking style changes.


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