Capturing Formality in Speech Across Domains and Languages

Debasmita Bhattacharya, Jie Chi, Julia Hirschberg, Peter Bell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

The linguistic notion of formality is one dimension of stylistic variation in human communication. A universal characteristic of language production, formality has surface-level realizations in written and spoken language. In this work, we explore ways of measuring the formality of such realizations in multilingual speech corpora across a wide range of domains. We compare measures of formality, contrasting textual and acoustic-prosodic metrics. We believe that a combination of these should correlate well with downstream applications. Our findings include: an indication that certain prosodic variables might play a stronger role than others; no correlation between prosodic and textual measures; limited evidence for anticipated inter-domain trends, but some evidence of consistency of measures between languages. We conclude that non-lexical indicators of formality in speech may be more subtle than our initial expectations, motivating further work on reliably encoding spoken formality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProc. INTERSPEECH 2023
PublisherInternational Speech Communication Association
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2023
EventInterspeech 2023 - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 20 Aug 202324 Aug 2023
Conference number: 24

Publication series

ISSN (Electronic)1990-9772


ConferenceInterspeech 2023
Internet address

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • formaility
  • speech analysis
  • code-switching
  • prosody


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