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Intonational variation in third party complaints in Spanish


Third party
Fundamental frequency
Mexican Spanish

How to Cite

Rao R. Intonational variation in third party complaints in Spanish. J. of Speech Sci. [Internet]. 2021 Feb. 5 [cited 2023 Sep. 26];3(1):141-68. Available from:


Very little previous research has addressed the prosodic characteristics of third party complaints. This paper discusses an utterance and word level intonational analysis of this speech act in four speakers of Mexican Spanish. The effect of social distance/ power relationships was incorporated into the study by creating an experimental data elicitation task in which participants addressed identical complaints to a friend, as well as a boss, based on a series of hypothetical contexts. Major global findings revealed that all speakers significantly increased their fundamental frequency (F0) mean when directing their complaints to friends, however, only two speakers significantly expanded their F0 range in the same circumstance. Locally, peaks and valleys were manifested at significantly higher levels across the board when addressing friends. Finally, while speakers produced complaint contours of similar overall shape regardless of hearer, individual variation was present in the form of circumflex versus suppressed utterance-final F0 configurations. Overall, the relatively small data set initiated preliminary thoughts on the application of both cross-linguistic and language- and dialect-specific intonational concepts to complaints while also emphasizing the importance of relationships between interlocutors for future studies.


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