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Phondi: Henriksen et al. on falsetto in Andalusian Spanish

Friday, October 3, 2014
12:00 AM
473 Lorch Hall

Prosodic restrictions on falsetto in Western Andalusian Spanish: a pilot study

In today's Phondi meeting, Nick Henriksen, Lorencia García-Amaya and Sarah Harper will present their work on the use of falsetto in Andalusian Spanish. The title and abstract of their presentation is included below.


Prosodic restrictions on falsetto in Western Andalusian Spanish: a pilot study

Falsetto voice is a vocal register above modal voice, in which vibration of stretched vocal fold edges produces a higher-pitched source, typically with steeper spectral slope. In speech it has many social meanings (e.g., Podesva, 2007; Stross, 2013), although to our knowledge most studies on falsetto examine varieties of English. In this presentation we extend the research on falsetto voice to Western Andalusian Spanish, spoken in southwest Spain. We show that: 1. falsetto is prosodically bound; and 2. falsetto occurs in interactional speech, typically as a negotiation strategy. 

For our experiment speakers participated in two speaking tasks: a map task performed in dyads, and an oral narration performed individually. For each intonational and intermediate phrase boundary we tagged the highest pitch point of the stressed syllable of the phrase-final word and extracted a series of phonetic measurements (e.g., max pitch, average pitch, etc.) in addition to measures of spectral tilt (e.g., H1-H2, H2-H4). We then coded (via auditory analysis) each phrase-final stressed syllable based on its voice quality: falsetto or modal voice. Our results show that falsetto occurs in 9% of the map task corpus and in 0% of the oral narrative corpus. We note an important prosodic restriction on falsetto production, namely it obtains in phrase-final stressed syllables only. Falsetto utterances show significant differences compared to modal voice utterances on most acoustic measures; we compare these results to recent work by Keating (2014). We also offer thoughts on the pragmatic and discourse implications of falsetto in Western Andalusian Spanish and make connections to socio-phonetic work on American English falsetto (e.g., Podesva, 2011).