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Factors in the recognition of vocally expressed emotions: A comparison of four languages

Pell, Marc D and Paulmann, Silke and Dara, Chinar and Alasseri, Areej and Kotz, Sonja A (2009) 'Factors in the recognition of vocally expressed emotions: A comparison of four languages.' Journal of Phonetics, 37 (4). pp. 417-435. ISSN 0095-4470

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To understand how language influences the vocal communication of emotion, we investigated how discrete emotions are recognized and acoustically differentiated in four language contexts-English, German, Hindi, and Arabic. Vocal expressions of six emotions (anger, disgust, fear, sadness, happiness, pleasant surprise) and neutral expressions were elicited from four native speakers of each language. Each speaker produced pseudo-utterances ("nonsense speech") which resembled their native language to express each emotion type, and the recordings were judged for their perceived emotional meaning by a group of native listeners in each language condition. Emotion recognition and acoustic patterns were analyzed within and across languages. Although overall recognition rates varied by language, all emotions could be recognized strictly from vocal cues in each language at levels exceeding chance. Anger, sadness, and fear tended to be recognized most accurately irrespective of language. Acoustic and discriminant function analyses highlighted the importance of speaker fundamental frequency (i.e., relative pitch level and variability) for signalling vocal emotions in all languages. Our data emphasize that while emotional communication is governed by display rules and other social variables, vocal expressions of 'basic' emotion in speech exhibit modal tendencies in their acoustic and perceptual attributes which are largely unaffected by language or linguistic similarity. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2011 15:48
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2022 00:46

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