One of the possible functions of intonation is its capacity to clarify textual structure. It may indicate, for instance, that a sentence is likely to be the last one in a sequence of statements that build a discourse unit. In order to investigate the perception of melodic cues to ‘‘finality,’’ a series of three listening experiments was performed with short sentences, the intonation of which was manipulated with respect to different melodic variables. The actual testing was done in two ways (1) by pairwise comparison and (2) by absolute rating. A linear least-squares estimation method brought to light that in both tests finality judgments were influenced significantly by differences in pitch register (experiment 1), pitch range (experiment 1), and shape of the pitch contour (experiments 1, 2, and 3). The results of the data analysis suggest strongly that these different variables generally combine additively in producing finality judgments, though the effect of one is sometimes conditional on the value of another.
Swerts, M. G. J., Bouwhuis, D. G., & Collier, R. P. G. (1994). Medolic cues to the perceived 'finality' of utterances. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 96(4), 2064-2075. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.410148