The Intonational Variation in Arabic corpus uses a multi-layered set of data collection instruments, following in the footsteps of the Intonational Variation in English (IViE) project. A range of tools are used to elicit speech recordings, to systematically vary certain variables of interest, and control others:

A data recorder

Scripted dialogue

The scripted dialogue yields multiple read speech realisations of different utterance types:

  • broad focus declarative (dec)

  • wh-question (whq)

  • yes-no-question (ynq)

  • coordinated question (coo)

  • information focus (inf)

  • identification focus (idf)

  • confirmation focus (con)

The position of the stressed syllable in the last lexical item in each sentence is systematically varied (on the final, penult or antepenult syllable).

The last lexical item in each sentence is (near-)identical in all dialects, permitting comparison of nuclear accent contours across utterance types/dialects.

A scene from the folk tale narrative


A read narrative yields data in which different speakers of the same dialect all produce the same sentences, within a narrative sequence.

Later, the speaker is asked to tell the story again from memory. The retold narrative yields instances of the same or similar sentence produced semi- spontaneously by different speakers of the same dialect.

The map task route

Map Task

The map task yields semi-spontaneous dialogue between two participants.

Mismatches are included in the maps to naturally generate questions in the conversation.

The names of landmarks on the map contain sonorant speech sounds, and the position of the stressed syllable is systematically varied in the final word of each landmark name.

An Arabic cooking dish

Free Conversation

Free conversation between two participants, on one or more topics: what is shared or unique about your dialect of Arabic, cooking and food, fashion, cars or sport.

We also collected experimental phonetic data, and some read speech in Modern Standard Arabic. Participants were also optionally invited to provide recordings in English, for use in work on second language acquisition of phonology. Finally, we collected data with 2-4 speakers of each dialect using an Arabic version of a Dialogue Completion Task tool*, based on those used in prior work on Spanish and Portuguese. A subset of this additional data will be lodged with UKDS at a future date.

*Blum-Kulka, S., House, J. & Kasper, G. 1989. Investigating cross-cultural pragmatics: An introductory overview. In S. Blum-Kulka, J. House & G. Kasper. (eds). Cross-cultural pragmatics: Requests and apologies. pp1-34. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.