Insight into functional aspects of audiovisual prosody is relevant from both a theoretical and applied perspective. First, while many people will share the belief that audiovisual cues may support or steer the communication process in many ways, it is remarkable to observe that this important communicative device is still largely unexplored. Knowledge about how audiovisual prosody works may yield new insights into how people mark dialogue structure, important words, emotional and attitudinal conntotations, turn-taking, etc. and more general into how languages can differ in the way they signal linguistic and paralinguistic phenomena. Second, there is an increasing interest in computer interfaces that rely on what is termed ‘embodied conversational agents’, i.e., specific software components that appear to users as animated characters (e.g. a talking head, or a complete figure). One example of such an agent is a virtual presenter who helps the user navigating through a website or who presents information through various media, such as computer graphics, non-speech audio, text and speech. To make these agents ‘believable’ and ‘communicative’, it is important to know in full detail how the specific auditive and visual parameters contribute to speech communication.


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