The prosody of negative yeah


  • Valerie Freeman University of Washington
  • Richard Wright University of Washington
  • Gina-Anne Levow University of Washington



Normally, yeah has positive polarity, but with a change in prosody, it can convey a negative stance (e.g., polite disagreement/rejection). This study examines acoustic-prosodic features of "negative yeah" in a stance-rich corpus of collaborative tasks. Four categories are identified based on degree of agreement/acceptance and distinguished by an interaction between pitch and intensity: while two groups have low, flat pitch, and two have high domed or dipping contours, this division is cross-cut by intensity, again low-flat vs. high domed. These patterns show that fine-grained stance analysis can reveal word-level acoustic patterns that are not apparent in coarser approaches. 

Author Biographies

  • Valerie Freeman, University of Washington
    Department of Linguistics
  • Richard Wright, University of Washington
    Professor, Department of Linguistics
  • Gina-Anne Levow, University of Washington
    Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics