5. Exploring regional variation in Italian question intonation

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This paper reports on the intonation analysis of yes-no questions in 15 regional varieties of Italian. The study has been carried out on a section of the CLIPS corpus consisting of a collection of Map Task dialogues of Northern, Central, and Southern accents estimated as representative of Italian regional variation. Results show that, contrary to what generally assumed in the literature, the most widespread intonation pattern for questions is rising-falling (not falling-rising), and the distribution of the rising-falling and falling-rising contour types across varieties is not regionally conditioned. Interestingly, for some varieties a different yes-no question intonation was found than in previous studies based on laboratory speech only. These findings confirm the fundamental importance of speaking style when analysing Italian intonation (especially where questions are involved), and make it clear that attention needs to be paid to elicitation methodology when acquiring/building corpora of spoken Italian with the aim of investigating intonation.


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