GREEK TONES AND BREAK INDICES: A BRIEF MANUAL
Please note this page provides downloadable files, and includes some updates to the system but it is by necessity brief and should not be considered a substitute of the published papers on GRToBI. For a list of papers, see Resources.
What is GRToBI?
GRToBI is a tool for the annotation of Greek spoken corpora; it provides a system for annotating intonational, prosodic and (limited) phonetic information, though users can add tiers that encode other types of information as well. The audio and annotation files can be read in Praat. You can download them from this site.
GRToBI is not a transcription system for Greek intonation, i.e. it is not equivalent to a list of IPA symbols for Greek intonation. This is so for two related reasons.
First, GRToBI assumes a particular view of prosody and of the relationship between phonetics and phonology. In particular, GRToBI is based on the autosegmental-metrical framework of intonational phonology (AM for short) which assumes a principled distinction between phonetics and phonology. The analysis on which GRToBI is based is phonological; that is, GRToBI is not meant to be a surface phonetic faithfull representation of F0 contours. Thus, the annotation labels may not always be phonetically transparent, and are not intended to capture all possible variations in phonetic realization. Since this is phonological representation, the differences indicated by the autosegmental representations are meant to be meaningful, that is to reflect pragmatic differences related to the melody.
Second, GRToBI has been designed to represent the prosodic system of Greek as spoken in Athens. Thus the tonal inventory may include phonological entities (e.g. pitch accents) not attested in other varieties of Greek and may not include entities that are attested in those varieties. Further, the phonetic realization of the same tonal unit may differ between the Athenian variety assumed here and other varieties of Greek. Finally, it is quite possible that certain configurations (e.g. the combinations of phrasal tones described below) do not occur in all varieties of Greek or if they do occur they have different pragmatics; differences in pragmatics may have to do with the implicatures that a melody conveys or with the ways it can encode focus. Recent research on the variation of melodies used with polar and wh-questions in Greek from Corfu, Crete, Cyprus and among L3 and heritage communities (Thrace Roma and heritage speakers in the US and Germany respectively) supports these distinctions (Tsiplakou et al. 2011; Gryllia et al. 2011).
In terms of design, GRToBI is similar to the original ToBI system for American English or MAE ToBI (MAE stands for Mainstream American English; see Silverman et al., 1992; Beckman et al. 2005). GRToBI has been adapted from this original design so that prosodic phenomena requiring special attention in Greek, such as sandhi, can be more easily annotated.
The prosodic and intonational analyses assumed in GRToBI have been based
(a) on existing research on various aspects of Greek prosody (see Bibliography); since new findings are continuously added to this body of research, it is natural that particular aspects of the phonological analysis assumed in GRToBI may be revised in the light of new evidence. For example, Baltazani, Gryllia & Arvaniti (2011) show that there are two standard melodies used with wh-questions in Greek, each with its own pragmatics.
(b) on the transcription of a corpus of spoken Standard Greek that includes data from several speakers using a variety of styles (read text, news broadcasting, interviews, spontaneous speech).
Uses of GRTOBI
GRToBI has been used to develop a publicly available corpus of annotated utterances. Prosodically annotated corpora are an important language resource; e.g. corpora-based research can contribute to the better understanding of prosody (see e.g. Arvaniti & Pelekanou 2002). The importance of prosody in speech production, speech perception and language acquisition is undisputable.
Further, GRToBI is based on an analysis of Greek prosodic structure. This analysis, developed on the basis of existing research and the annotation of the GRToBI corpus itself, is the first systematic description of Greek prosody and, as such, useful for theoretical reasons.
Thus, the GRToBI database and prosodic analysis system can be used for the following purposes:
conducting research on the phenomena encoded in the GRToBI tiers (or other phenomena that specific sites may wish to annotate in additional tiers by searching the corpus;
obtaining quantitative results by using the corpus as an annotated database;
teaching Greek prosody both to students of linguistics and to second language learners, by adopting the prosodic analysis used in GRToBI and using GRToBI annotated utterances as examples;
using the prosodic analysis and quantitative data derived from GRToBI for modeling prosody for speech synthesis.
The GRToBI annotation system
A GRToBI annotated file consists of an audio recording of the utterance (in wav format) and an annotation file (in the PRAAT textgrid format). When the wav and textgrid files are opened together the following appear: the waveform of the utterance, the spectrogram and pitch contour of the utterance (in Hz), as well as the five GRToBI annotation tiers (see Figure 1 for an example):
The Tone Tier for the intonational analysis
The Prosodic Words Tier for phonetic transcription
The Words Tier for the text in romanization
The Break Index Tier for indices of cohesion
The Miscellaneous Tier for other information
The development of GRToBI largely took place while the first author was a visitor at the Ohio State University Linguistics Laboratory. We would like to thank the members of the Laboratory, particularly Mary Beckman, Julia McGory, Shu-hui Peng, Amanda Miller and Mariapaola D'Imperio for their encouragement and input during the development of GRToBI, and also for long distance technical support. Thanks are also due to Georgios Tserdanelis for providing wav files for this site, and to the students in Mary Beckman's and Julie's ToBI course for useful feedback at a first presentation of GRToBI. We are grateful to Sun-Ah Jun who brought us together, suggested we develop the system and played devil's advocate at the early stages of its gestation. Finally, we will always remain deeply indebted to Jenny and Peter Ladefoged for their kind hospitality to Amalia during her stay in Los Angeles.