Skip to main content
Human-Robot Interaction Lab Sønderborg

Yes/No Questions: More Examples

Have you ever seen a robot?

In this section, we compare the questions from the overview section (Overview: Intonation in different question types) to the same questions spoken by a speaker of the same language but with a different variety.

Danish speakers

Danish: All the Danish speakers pronounce this particular question in a similar way. This was unexpected, because Copenhagen Danish and Funen and Jutland Danish have different kinds of basic accent group patterns: the basic Copenhagen accent group melody consists in a falling or low tone on the accented syllable, followed by a tonal jump to a higher tone on the first unaccented syllable, and after that the tone falls. In contrast, the accented syllable in Funen and Jutland Danish has a rising tone in the accented syllable, which forms a peak when the tone turns and falls again. However, in this question, all the Danish speakers use the same type of tonal movements in all accent groups: NONsin = rise-fall; SET en ro- = a fall through all syllables; -BOT rise.

Right now we have no explanation for the tonal patterns found in this question, but listen to the similarities across the varieties in (45) and (45-1):

(45)      Danish Copenhagen

(45-1)   Jutland speaker


Norwegian speakers

In the Norwegian utterances, the last accent group contains the big accent melody, namely RObot. All preceding accent groups have small accent melodies.

(46)       Southeast Norwegian

(46-1)   South Norwegian

The Central Swedish speaker places the strongest prominence, and a big accent, on the last word RObot, which seems logical for a word that introduces a new topic into the conversation. The conversation partners have not spoken about robots before.

Contrary to this logic, the two Scania Swedish speakers do not make the last word RObot the most prominent word in the whole utterance. The Scania Swedish speaker in (47-1) has a small accent on RObot. The strongest prominence, and probably big accents, are used with NÅNsin (“ever”) and SETT (“seen”), which are about equally strong. Most interesting in this question is perhaps the small accent (or maybe mere primary stress) on the verb HAR (“have”) at the very beginning of the whole yes/no question. This stress on otherwise non-important, short auxiliary verbs and personal pronouns at the very beginning of Scandinavian can be observed often in the Scandinavian questions; for example, you can hear the same kind of prominence on har in the Southeast Norwegian utterance in example (46) above.


(47)       Central Swedish

(47-1)   Scania Swedish


Last Updated 09.02.2023