The Finnmark North Sami is a variety of North Sami language, an indigenous, endangered minority language spoken in the northernmost parts of Norway and Finland. The speakers of this language are bilingual, and regularly speak the majority language (Finnish or Norwegian) as well as their own North Sami variety. In this paper we investigate possible influences of these majority languages on prosodic characteristics of Finnmark North Sami, and associate them with prosodic patterns prevalent in the majority languages. We present a novel methodology that: (a) automatically finds the portions of speech (words) where the prosodic differences based on majority languages are most robustly manifested; and (b) analyzes the nature of these differences in terms of intonational patterns. For the first step, we trained convolutional WaveNet speech synthesis models on North Sami speech material, modified to contain purely prosodic information, and used conditioning embeddings to find words with the greatest differences between the varieties. The subsequent exploratory analysis suggests that the differences in intonational patterns between the two Finnmark North Sami varieties are not manifested uniformly across word types (based on part-of-speech category). Instead, we argue that the differences reflect phrase-level prosodic characteristics of the majority languages.
Fields of Science
- 6161 Phonetics