Gender- And register-biased patterns in f0 use: How does prosody contribute to (in)formality in Japanese?

Céleste Guillemot, Shin Ichiro Sano

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The phonological organization of a language restricts the way in which pitch range can be realized lexically and/or intonationally. Previous studies on tonal languages have shown that a phonological grammar demanding a particular tonal classification affects the variability in pitch range: in tonal languages, smaller variations are observed compared to non-tonal languages. Research on Japanese, a language with lexical pitch accent, suggests that although the range of allowed f0 variations is smaller than in non-tonal languages, speakers make use of pitch range in specific pragmatic situations. Gender and formality were found to be good predictors of pitch range variations. Specifically, contrary to the intuitive judgment about gender differences in pitch range, in Japanese male speakers have a wider pitch range than female speakers. Based on the analysis of the Corpus of Spontaneous Japanese, this study provides further insights on the nature of this gender difference in pitch range. Furthermore, we explore how Japanese speakers make use of f0 to express formality. Our results suggest a tendency in male speakers to use higher f0 in informal contexts. Additionally, we found that contrary to the frequency code theory, it is informal speech that is associated with a higher f0.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-729
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the International Conference on Speech Prosody
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020 - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 2020 May 252020 May 28


  • Corpus study
  • F0 range
  • Formality
  • Gender
  • Japanese
  • Register
  • Sociophonetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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