Visual prosody: The relationships between head movements and the verbs


Visual prosody consists of head and facial motions which accompany speech prosody. The improvement of speech intelligibility by head movement has been reported by Munhall et al. (2003) and the increase in the perceptual rate of a sentential focus with head or facial movement by Krahmer and Swerts (2007). Here, I will show that the syntactic structure can influence visual prosody. With video clips of two Japanese newsreaders from thirty-nine news programs, a perceptual experiment was carried out on untrained twenty-six subjects. They were instructed to judge the timing when the newsreaders made a head nod. It turned out that the speakers had a strong tendency to nod at the matrix verbs. As for the embedded verbs, those in the sentential compliments and in the advervial phrases frequently co-occur with head nods, whereas those in the relative clauses which modify nouns did much less frequently.

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