Intonation Study

I am conducting an informal study on the natural intonation patterns for various forms of disagreement. If you'd like to help out, use the web widget below to record yourself saying all of the dialogues below in the way that sounds most natural to you. (No need to repeat the stories, just the lettered assertions).


Thanks in advance for your help!

Dialogue 1

You and I are trying to count the number of tall trees in a field. We agree to count trees over 10 feet tall as 'tall', and any tree shorter than 10 ft as 'not tall'. There is a 7 ft fir tree, and a 12 ft redwood tree. I make assertion (A), and you correct me with (B):

  • A: The fir tree is tall.
  • B: That's false! The fir tree isn't tall; the redwood tree is tall.

Dialogue 2

You and I have agreed that what we ought to do is buy the cheapest cheese. There's a $3 cheddar, and a $5 brie. I make assertion (C), and you correct me with (D):

  • C: We ought to buy the brie.
  • D: That's false! We oughtn't buy the brie; we ought to buy the cheddar.

Dialogue 3

Ethel and Fred are arguing about which children on the playground to count as tall. Ethel points to Annie, a 3 ft. 6 inch first-grader, and asserts (E). Fred disagrees, and points to Bobbie, a 4 ft. 8 inch first-grader, while saying (F):

  • E: Annie is tall.
  • F: That's false! Bobbie is tall!

Dialogue 4

Ten miners are all trapped in one of two mines shafts (shaft A or shaft B). We are 95% confident that the miners are in shaft A, but we're not sure. Flood waters threaten to flood the shafts. We have enough sandbags to block one shaft, but not both. If we block one shaft, all the water will go into the other shaft, drowning any miners inside it. If we block neither shaft, both shafts will fill halfway with water, and just one miner, the lowest in the shaft, will be killed. I think that we ought to do the action that has the best guaranteed outcome, while you think we ought to do what's most likely to have the optimal outcome. I express my judgement with (G), and you object with (H):

  • G: We ought to block neither shaft.
  • H: That's false! What we ought to do is block shaft A!

Dialogue 5

Suppose Harriet can push a button to save one of two people from death: a stranger, or her best friend Joe. If she does nothing, both die. I think it doesn't matter who she saves, so I tell her (I). You think that the fact that Joe is her best friend gives her good reason to save him, and so disagree with me by saying (J):

  • I: You ought to save someone.
  • J: You oughtn’t save someone—--you ought to save Joe.

Curious what all this proves?

If you'd like to be notified when the paper analyzing the data is ready, enter your email below:

Your email: