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Production and perception of intonational cues expressing epistemic confidence in Turkish

Hülagü, Ayşenur
This study investigates how certainty and uncertainty are conveyed and comprehended among Turkish interlocutors. A production study was conducted to elicit utterances under epistemic modalities of "certain" and "uncertain" (in which the participants uttered only locative pronouns ("burada" (here), "şurada" (there), and "orada" (there)), only epistemic adverbs ("galiba" (probably) and "kesinlikle" (certainly)), and locative pronouns modified by epistemic adverbs). Speakers tended to extend the duration to express uncertainty and to shorten the duration to express certainty. In terms of pitch range, when speakers were uttering locative pronouns and expressing that they were sure of their answers, they used a wider pitch range. A perception study was conducted to observe the effects of acoustic properties (i.e. mean pitch, pitch range, and duration), intonation contours and lexical items on the perception of epistemic confidence of the speaker. The task was choosing modality of utterance on the two alternative forced-choice method and a 7-point Likert scale in a within-subjects design. Among the acoustic properties the effect of duration was found to be prominent. Shorter durations refered to higher certainty whereas longer durations refered to higher uncertainty. Moreover, high pitch range determined confidence of speakers as certain. In terms of intonation contours, perception of the listeners suggested that H*+L LL% is the best representer of all categories. Duration helped to distinguish epistemic confidence. The other representative intonation contours are: H* LL% for certainty and L* LH% for uncertainty.