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The Information Structure–prosody interface in text-to-speech technologies. An empirical perspective

Mónica Domínguez ORCID logo, Mireia Farrús and Leo Wanner


The correspondence between the communicative intention of a speaker in terms of Information Structure and the way this speaker reflects communicative aspects by means of prosody have been a fruitful field of study in Linguistics. However, text-to-speech applications still lack the variability and richness found in human speech in terms of how humans display their communication skills. Some attempts were made in the past to model one aspect of Information Structure, namely thematicity for its application to intonation generation in text-to-speech technologies. Yet, these applications suffer from two limitations: (i) they draw upon a small number of made-up simple question-answer pairs rather than on real (spoken or written) corpus material; and (ii) they do not explore whether any other interpretation would better suit a wider range of textual genres beyond dialogs. In this paper, two different interpretations of thematicity in the field of speech technologies are examined: the state-of-art binary (and flat) theme-rheme, and the hierarchical thematicity defined by Igor Mel’čuk within the Meaning-Text Theory. The outcome of the experiments on a corpus of native speakers of US English suggests that the latter interpretation of thematicity has a versatile implementation potential for text-to-speech applications of the Information Structureprosody interface.

Corresponding author: Mónica Domínguez, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain, E-mail:

Funding source: European Commission

Award Identifier / Grant number: H2020-645012-RIA, H2020-870930-IA

Funding source: Agencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI)

Award Identifier / Grant number: RYC-2015-17239 (AEI/FSE, UE)

Funding source: Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades

Award Identifier / Grant number: RYC-2015-17239 (AEI/FSE, UE)

Funding source: Fondo Social Europeo (FSE)

Award Identifier / Grant number: RYC-2015-17239 (AEI/FSE, UE)

  1. Research funding: This work was partially funded by the European Commission in the context of its H2020 Programme under the contract numbers H2020-645012-RIA (KRISTINA) and H2020-870930-IA (WELCOME). The second author was funded by the Agencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI), Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades and the Fondo Social Europeo (FSE), grant RYC-2015-17239 (AEI/FSE, UE).


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Received: 2020-02-18
Accepted: 2021-01-04
Published Online: 2021-01-28
Published in Print: 2022-05-25

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