The Interactive Atlas of Romance Intonation website contains a whole series of oral materials in audio format intended to provide the basis for further in-depth studies of Romance languages' prosody.
In terms of content, for each population center selected, data was obtained by means of three main methods: intonation survey, map task, videotaped conversation.
The data of the intonational survey were collected by means of questionnaire based on the Discourse Completion Task, an inductive method that is widely used in research on pragmatics and sociolinguistics (see Blum-Kulka et al. (1989)1, Billmyer and Varghese (2000)2 and Félix-Brasdefer (2010)3, among others). It is an inductive method in which the researcher presents the subject with a series of situations (such as “You go into a shop you have never been in before and ask the shop assistant if they sell sugar”) and then asks him or her to respond accordingly. This method is especially useful because it allows the researcher to obtain a wide range of intonation contours that are difficult to obtain with other methods. Examples of different types of utterance (roughly 31 contours per locale) were taken from among the responses to an intonation survey. The survey used for this Atlas was based on that used by Prieto (2001).4
The survey consisted of approximately 31 situations, each intended to elicit a particular type of utterance used in the conversations. Utterances were organized as follows:
- Yes-no questions
- Wh- questions
- Echo questions
The questionnaire has been adapted to the following languages:
At least two subjects have been surveyed in the abovementioned locales. Subjects surveyed were mostly women aged between 25 and 45 years.
The intonation pattern for each utterance is described in a file which contains the fundamental frequency contour as measured using the Praat program, the audio file, a picture containing orthographic and phonetic transcription (created by means of Praat scripts) and an interpretation of the utterance.
Instructions for questionnaire elicitation
The objective of the guided questionnaire is to obtain spontaneous utterances though the oral presentation of contexts which induce different types of utterances and intentions. It is very important that the informants do NOT read the contexts or the possible answers (the answers that appear in the questionnaires are for the researcher's approximate reference and do not have to coincide with the spontaneous responses.) One decisive factor that should be noted before administering the questionnaire to informants is that it should be adapted to the specific dialect under investigation. By making this adaptation, lexical items and sayings that do not exist in that dialect will not appear in the questionnaire, ensuring that possible misunderstandings of the situation are avoided.
Before beginning the questionnaire the researcher should explain to the informant that he/she should attend to the situation and respond in the most natural, spontaneous way possible, as if the situation were actually happening at that moment. The ideal method is for the researcher to explain the discourse context to the informant in a very clear way, assuring that the context is understood. The reading/explanation of the discourse context (without modifying the situation) guarantees that the same context is always maintained, and in this way it can be used for purposes of comparison with other interviews and across dialects. Another important factor is that when the informant produces each utterance, the researcher is checking to make sure that each utterance type/intention produced is in line with the desired type (interrogative, statement of the obvious, etc.). If the informant produces an utterance which is not of the type desired, the researcher must ask the informant to reformulate their response.
Each person participating in a survey must give his/her written consent to the processing of personal data, including his/her voice. To this end, he/she must complete and sign a personal information form and a consent form.
Map Task Dialogue Corpus
The Map Task is a validated technique in which two subjects cooperate to complete a specified task. It is designed to cause the subjects to produce particular interrogative patterns. Each of the two subjects has a map of an imaginary town marked with buildings and other specific elements such as fountains and monuments. A route is marked on the map of one of the two participants (see for example map-giver2), and that person has the role of the instruction-giver. The version of the same map held by the other participant (see for example map-follower2) differs from that of the instruction-giver in that it does not show the route to be followed. The second participant therefore has to ask the instruction-giver questions in order to be able to reproduce the same route on his or her own map.
An audio recording of the performance of the Map Task and its corresponding orthographic transcription can be accessed for each locale.
Each person participating in a map task dialogue must give his/her written consent to the processing of personal data, including his/her voice. To this end, he/she must complete and sign a personal information form and a consent form.
For each locale the Atlas group conducted interviews of 10 to 15 minutes. A representative segment of conversation has been chosen for each locale and posted on this website. The segment is available in both video format and the corresponding orthographical transcription is also provided.
Each person participating in a videotaped conversation must give his/her written consent to the processing of personal data, including his/her voice and image. To this end, he/she must complete and sign a personal information form and a consent form.
Every informant has to give his/her written consent to the processing of personal data, including his/her voice and image. To that end, s/he must fill in and sign a personal information form and a consent form.
Guidelines for researchers
Guidelines for researchers interested in taking part in this project can be downloaded here.
(1) Blum-Kulka, Shoshana, Juliane House and Gabriele Kasper (1989). ‘Investigating cross-cultural pragmatics: An introductory overview’, in S. Blum-Kulka, J. House and Kasper (eds.), Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1-34.
(3) Félix-Brasdefer, J. César (2010). ‘Data collection methods in speech act performance: DCTs, role plays, and verbal reports’, in A. Martínez-Flor and E. Usó-Juan (eds.), Speech act performance: Theoretical, Empirical, and methodological issues. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 41-56.
(4) Prieto, Pilar (2001). 'L’entonació dialectal del català: El cas de les frases interrogatives absolutes', in A. Bover, M-R. Lloret and M. Vidal-Tibbits (eds.), Actes del 9è Col·loqui de la North American Catalan Society. Barcelona: Publicacions de l’Abadia de Montserrat, 347-377.