Acoustic correlates of politeness: prosodic and voice quality measures in polite and informal speech of Korean and German speakers

Sven Grawunder, Bodo Winter, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany

This paper investigates phonetic and prosodic features of polite versus informal speech. Two different communicative tasks were performed by speakers of two unrelated and culturally distant languages, Korean and German. We found that the polite speech of Korean speakers can be characterized by an increase of filled pauses and extralinguistic markers, a higher degree of breathiness, as well as lower measures of average fundamental frequency, intensity, period perturbation and amplitude perturbation. We also found that German polite speech shares similar tendencies. The parameters studied seem to contradict previously claimed universals about polite speech.