The ToBI Annotation Conventions
                by Mary E. Beckman and Julia Hirschberg 

1. Synopsis

A ToBI transcription for an utterance consists minimally of a
recording of the speech, an associated record of the fundamental
frequency contour, and (the transcription proper) symbolic labels for
events on the following four parallel tiers:

1. an orthographic tier
2. a tone tier
3. a break-index tier
4. a miscellaneous tier

Conventions are specified for both simple text-based transcription
using this system and for waves(tm) label files and formats to
accompany a speech file and associated time-aligned analysis records
for the utterance.  We first summarize the conventions assuming a
computer-based labelling system such as waves(tm) label files and
formats.  A final section (Section 9), provided by Jacques Terken and
Mari Ostendorf, summarizes the added guidelines for adapting the
conventions to simple text-based transcription.

2. The Orthographic Tier

The orthographic tier will be used only for the transcription of
orthographic words.  In the waves(tm) label file, each word's
orthographic form should be marked at the end of the final segment in
the word, as determined by the labeller from the waveform or
spectrogram record.  That is, each orthographic word will be marked at
its right `edge'.  Individual transcribers will also determine whether
and how to transcribe phenomena such as filled pauses (e.g.,
``um'',``uh'') and whether to use contractions (e.g., ``gotta'') or
not.  There are several existing orthographic conventions for
transcribing such phenomena, which labellers may want to consult.  For
example, the ATIS corpus conventions specify ``er'', ``mm'', ``uh'',
and ``um'' as the allowable transcriptions for filled pauses.

3. The Break Index Tier

Break indices represent a rating for the degree of juncture perceived
between each pair of words and between the final word and the silence
at the end of the utterance.  They are to be marked after all words
that have been transcribed in the orthographic tier.  All junctures --
including those after fragments and filled pauses -- must be assigned
an explicit break index value; there is no default juncture type.

3.1 Break Index Values

Values for the break index are chosen from the following set:

0 for cases of clear phonetic marks of clitic groups; e.g. the
  medial affricate in contractions of `did you' or a flap as in
  `got it'.

1 most phrase-medial word boundaries.

2 a strong disjuncture marked by a pause or virtual pause, but with
  no tonal marks; i.e. a well-formed tune continues across the
  a disjuncture that is weaker than expected at what is tonally a
  clear intermediate or full intonation phrase boundary.

3 intermediate intonation phrase boundary; i.e. marked by a single phrase
  tone affecting the region from the last pitch accent to the boundary.

4 full intonation phrase boundary; i.e. marked by a final boundary tone
  after the last phrase tone.

For example, a typical fluent utterance of the following sentence:

   Did you want an example?

might have a `0' between `Did' and `you' indicating palatalization of
the /d j/ sequence across the boundary between these words.
Similarly, the break index value between `want' and `an' might again
be `0' indicating deletion of /t/ and subsequent flapping of /n/.  The
remaining break index values would probably be `1' between `you' and
`want' and between `an' and `example', indicating the presence of a
mere word boundary, and `4' at the end of the utterance, indicating
the end of a well-formed intonation phrase.

In the waves(tm) break index label file, the number should be associated 
with a point in time at the end of each word, as indicated in the
orthographic tier (Section 2).  It should be located exactly at, or
slightly to the right, of this word marker, so that break indices can
be unambiguously associated with other tiers.

3.2 Uncertainty and Underspecification

Transcriber uncertainty about break-index strength is to be indicated
with a minus (`-') affixed directly to the right of the break index
(e.g.  `1-' to indicate uncertainty between `0' and `1'; `2-' to
indicate uncertainty between `2' and `1'; and so on).

The full ToBI transcription must include both break index values and
tone values.  However, to accommodate backward compatibility with
previously labelled databases or to allow intermediate stages in the
labelling process, a partial ToBI transcription may have only break
index values or only tone values assigned.  Underspecification of
break index values may be indicated by a value of `X' at the word
boundary in the break index tier.

3.3 Disfluencies

The perception of an audible hesitation (for example, an abrupt cutoff
or a prolongation) can be marked by the diacritic `p' immediately to
the right of the break index (e.g. `3p').  This diacritic should be
applied only to break indices of 1, 2, or 3.  We expect that `1p' will
be used for abrupt cutoffs, and `2p' and `3p' will be used to indicate
prolongation, with `3p' suggesting hesitation after the onset of the
tonal marks for an intermediate phrase.  (See also Section 5.)

4. The Tone Tier

Two types of tones are marked in the tonal tier: pitch events
associated with intonational boundaries (phrasal tones) and pitch
events associated with accented syllables (pitch accents).  The basic
tone levels are high (H) in the local pitch range versus low (L) in
the local pitch range.

4.1 Phrasal Tones

Phrasal tones will be assigned at every intermediate or intonation phrase:

L- or H-     phrase accent, which occurs at an intermediate phrase
             boundary (level 3 and above); note that this represents a
             return to the notation in Pierrehumbert (1980)

L% or H%     (final) boundary tone, which occurs at every full intonation
             phrase boundary (level 4)

%H           high initial boundary tone; marks a phrase that begins 
             relatively high in the speaker's pitch range; the
             default initial boundary is in the middle of the range or
             lower, and will be left unmarked in the transcription.
             Transcribers should use %H only when a high pitch at the
             beginning of an utterance cannot be attributed to a H
             accent (H* or H+!H*) on the first or second syllable in
             the utterance (i.e., when the first word itself does
             not appear to be accented, or when its accented syllable
             occurs too far into the word to account for the initial
             H), and where the utterance contrasts with a possible
             rendition with a lower-pitched onset.

Note that, since intonation phrases are composed of one or more
intermediate phrases plus a boundary tone, full intonation phrase
boundaries will have two final tones, e.g.:

L- L%        for a full intonation phrase with a L phrase accent
             ending its final intermediate phrase and a L% boundary
             tone falling to a point low in the speaker's range, as
             in the standard `declarative' contour of American English.

L- H%        for a full intonation phrase with a L phrase accent closing
             the last intermediate phrase, followed by a H boundary tone,
             as in `continuation rise'.

H- H%        for an intonation phrase with a final intermediate phrase
             ending in a H phrase accent and a subsequent H boundary tone,
             as in the canonical `yes-no question' contour.  Note that
             the H- phrase accent causes `upstep' on the following
             boundary tone, so that the H% after a H- rises to a very
             high value.

H- L%        for an intonation phrase in which the H phrase accent of
             the final intermediate phrase upsteps the L% to a value
             in the middle of the speaker's range, producing a final
             level `plateau'.

For convenience, labellers may prefer to mark the tones at a break
index with value `4' in a single step, with H-H%, L-L%, H-L%, or L-H%.
We recommend that ToBI label menus include these symbols in addition
to the separate symbols for phrasal and boundary tones described
above; two additional symbols for downstepped phrase accent/boundary
tone combinations will be described below in Section 4.3.

In the waves(tm) label file, the phrase accent and/or boundary tone
associated with a phrase should be marked at a point at or just before
the end of the last segment in the word ending the intermediate or
full intonation phrase, and always before the related break-index
mark; high initial boundary tones should be marked at the beginning of
the phrase, where the H tone is observed and should always be located
after the break-index marker for any preceding phrase.

%r           Will be used to mark the left edge of an intonation
             phrase which begins after a hesitation or disfluency.
             The `%r' notation is used to indicate a `contour restart' --
	     i.e. the initiation of a new intonational contour after a
             disruption.  This diacritic should be used only in cases
	     where the disfluency has caused a clear contour

4.2 Pitch Accents

Pitch accent tones will be marked at every accented syllable.  Lack of
pitch accent assignment for a syllable will be interpreted as meaning
that the syllable is NOT accented.  The ToBI transcription allows for
the following five types of pitch accents.  (Transcribers labelling
utterances in dialects other than standard American English, standard
Australian English, or RP British English may need to add additional
types.  These should be described in a general introduction to the
transcribed database.)

H*            `peak accent' -- an apparent tone target on the accented
              syllable which is in the upper part of the speaker's
              pitch range for the phrase.  This includes tones in the
              middle of the pitch range, but precludes very low F0
              targets.  [Corresponds to H* and H*+L in Pierrehumbert's
              six-accent inventory.]

L*            `low accent' -- an apparent tone target on the accented
              syllable which is in the lowest part of the speaker's pitch

L*+H          `scooped accent' -- a low tone target on the accented
              syllable which is immediately followed by relatively
              sharp rise to a peak in the upper part of the speaker's
              pitch range.

L+H*          `rising peak accent' -- a high peak target on the accented
              syllable which is immediately preceded by relatively
              sharp rise from a valley in the lowest part of the
              speaker's pitch range.

H+!H*         a clear step down onto the accented syllable from a high
              pitch which itself cannot be accounted for by a H
              phrasal tone ending the preceding phrase or by a
              preceding H pitch accent in the same phrase; should only
              be used when the preceding material is clearly
              high-pitched and unaccented.  (Otherwise the accent is a
              simple !H*.)

In a waves(tm) label file, the pitch accent tone label should be
placed within the nucleus of the accented syllable (i.e. the syllable
that is phonologically associated to the starred tone of the accent),
and always before the orthographic label and the break index mark at
the end of the word.

If the F0 peak or valley for the starred H or L tone does not occur
within the accented syllable, labellers who so wish may mark the early
(or late) F0 event with `>' (or `<') pointing to the following (or
preceding) pitch accent label.  Thus, for example, if the F0 maximum
for a L+H* occurs after the end of the accented syllable, a labeller
may mark the time of the F0 peak with a `<' pointing back to the L+H*

Implicit in our discussion of the five pitch accents is the notion
that H* is the `default' accent type.  So, if there is any uncertainty
about how low the F0 is before the peak, as in some cases of possible
L+H* near the beginning of an utterance, the transcriber should mark
`H*' rather than `L+H*'.

4.3 Downstep Diacritic for Pitch Accents and Phrase Accents

Downstepped (high) tones will be marked explicitly using:


preceding the downstepped pitch accent peak or downstepped H phrase
accent.  Transcribers familiar with Pierrehumbert's full system should
note that this eliminates the H*+L accent as a necessary downstep
trigger within the system, since now the contrast between H* and H*+L
will be marked by the absence versus presence of `!' on the following
H tone.

Note that, since it is the H tone in each case that is affected by the
downstep, the `!' diacritic should immediately precede the affected H
tone in a pitch accent or phrase accent.  Note also that this
diacritic is NEVER applied to the first H tone in a phrase.

Some example uses of the downstep diacritic are:

H* !H- L%          for the downstepped high phrase tone in the
                   ``calling contour'' that in Pierrehumbert's 
                   original system was analyzed as H*+L H- L%

H* !H* L- L%       for the ``staircase'' pattern that in Pierrehumbert's 
                   original system was analyzed as H*+L H* L- L%

L*+H L*+!H L*+!H   for the succession of downstepped peaks that would
                   occur in a succession of scooped accents

In light of our recommendations above that the possible tones of a
level 4 break should be included as separate menu items, the
possibility of the downstepped H phrase accent at full intonation
phrase boundaries means that `!H-L%' and `!H-H%' should also be
included as menu items.

4.4 Underspecification and Uncertainty

The full ToBI transcription must include both break index values and
tone values.  However, to accommodate backward compatibility with
previously labelled databases or to allow intermediate stages in the
labelling process, a partial ToBI transcription may have only break
index values or only tone values assigned.  Underspecification of
tonal values may be indicated by `*', `-', and `%' for a tonally
unspecified pitch accent, phrase accent, and boundary tone,
respectively.  Note that this does not indicate uncertainty about the
tonal value, but rather that the tonal values have yet to be assigned.

On the tonal tier, two kinds of uncertainty may be indicated:
uncertainty over whether an event of a particular type has occurred,
and uncertainty over the tonal value of an event that clearly has
occurred.  Thus, for example, the labeller may be unsure whether a
particular syllable is accented, or, knowing that it is accented, may
be uncertain of the accent type.  Uncertainty of the first sort
(whether the event has occurred) is indicated by `*?', `-?', and `%?'
for pitch accents, phrase accents, and boundary tones, respectively.
Uncertainty of the second sort (over the tonal value of a clearly
occurring event) is indicated by `X*?', `X-?', and `X%?'.  Thus, for

*      means `This syllable is accented but the database does not yet
       have accent type transcribed.'

*?     means `I'm not sure whether this syllable is accented or not.'

X*?    means `I believe this syllable is accented but I am uncertain
       what accent type to assign.' 

A typical case where `*?' might be used is for a very strong syllable
in a part of an utterance between a prenuclear H* and a nuclear H*,
where the F0 contour is flat and high because of the preceding and
following tones, making it difficult to detect intervening H* accents.
A typical case where `X*?'  might be used is a part of an utterance
where the labeller cannot tell whether an accent is a L* accent or a
H* accent in a compressed pitch range.

5. Miscellaneous Tier

The miscellaneous tier will be used for any comments or markings
(e.g., silence, audible breaths, laughter, disfluencies, and so on)
desired by particular transcription groups.  The only conventions ToBI
specifies for this tier are that events in general should be labelled
at their temporal beginnings and endings with labels of the form:

event< ... event>

These labels should be placed in the text transcription or in the
waves(tm) label file to correspond as closely as possible to the
temporal beginning and endings of the phenomena being described.  So,
a period of laughter plus speech might be indicated by marking the
beginning and end of the laughter with:

laughter< ... laughter>

Single comments in the misc tier such as `bad pitch track' or `disfl'
(for `disfluency') are also allowable.  However, whenever a misc
comment refers to a region and not just a particular point in time,
mark the beginning and end of the region.  For example, if the pitch
tracking algorithm has made an identifiable error in a particular
region, such as pitch doubling or pitch halving, the transcriber
should consider giving this more specific information in the usual
paired event label format.

In general, it is the assumption of the participants in the common
transcription group that silences should be automatically detectable,
at least to a first approximation, and that transcriber time should
not be spent marking these by hand.  Disfluencies, by contrast, are
not automatically detectable, and the absence of markings for them
makes it difficult to parse the tone and break index tiers.  For these
reasons, transcribers are urged to mark disfluencies on the
miscellaneous tier using `disfl<' and `disfl>' (or `disfl' if the
disfluency is extremely localized), and to provide these marks in the
miscellaneous tier menu when using waves(tm)).  Since demarcating a
disfluent region is considerably more difficult than merely
recognizing its presence, the marks `disfl<' and `disfl>' (or simple
`disfl') should be interpreted as rough pointers to the disfluent
region and transcribers should not agonize over placing them
precisely.  Suggested conventions for further specification of
particular types of disfluencies and their labels are provided in the
``Guidelines for ToBI Labelling''.

6. Pitch Range

HiF0   In transcriptions using waves(tm) label files, local pitch 
       range will be marked for each intermediate phrase (interval
       between level 3 boundaries) with this diacritic.  To estimate a
       phrase's pitch range, mark a point within the pitch accent in
       the phrase which includes a `H' tone and which contains the F0
       maximum for the phrase.  That is, the accent containing the
       HiF0 mark should be one of H*, L+H*, L*+H, or H+!H*.  Thus if
       an intermediate phrase contains only L* accents, HiF0 will NOT
       be marked for that phrase.  Transcribers should take reasonable
       care to choose a point in time that reflects the target of the
       H for the accent.  In several cases this will mean choosing
       some point other than the actual F0 maximum.  For example,
       sometimes the highest F0 value in an accented syllable reflects
       the `intrinsic' effect of a voiceless consonant and will thus
       be a poor estimate of the speaker's choice of pitch range.
       More seriously, in a phrase where the highest accent-related F0
       occurs in a H* H- H% sequence, choosing the absolutely highest
       value for HiF0 will artifactually inflate the pitch range
       estimate by the amount of the upstep on the H%.  In such cases,
       we recommend that the syllable's amplitude contour be used to
       pinpoint HiF0 within the candidate region.

7. Redundancy Among Tiers

There is some redundancy among tiers.  For example, break index
locations are redundant to the orthographic tier.  Also, the
occurrence of phrase accents and boundary tones on the tone tier is
redundant to the presence of break index values `3' and `4' on the
break index tier.  In tonally underspecified databases, the marks `-'
and `%' will be completely redundant to break index values `3' and
`4'.  Even in tonally specified databases, `-?' and `%?' will be
redundant to break index values `3-' and `4-'.  In order to save time
and improve intertranscriber consistency, we recommend that labellers
who use waves(tm) avail themselves of routines for automatically
inserting redundant labels on either tier.

8. Files Associated with the Transcriptions

8.1  Speech File Formats

Since utterances will be recorded and transcribed at different sites,
and for different immediate research purposes, it seems unlikely that
we can arrive at any simple guidelines for such matters as sampling
rate.  We recommend adoption of formats compatible with other corpora
insofar as possible.

8.2  Transcription Label Files

Each tier of ToBI should be representable in a simple text-based
transcription, and as a separate label file in the waves(tm) label
format. So, there will be separate label files for the orthographic
tier, the break index tier, the tonal tier, and the miscellaneous
tier.  Such modularity allows partial transcription to be done and
allows sites to add additional tiers as additional label files.  All
label files are of course aligned temporally via the waveform they
label.  This approach should also allow variation in display and
access to different types of information.  It is easy to provide
software that supports labelling in such a format and that will
generate summaries of prosodic information from such label files in a
variety of formats.

9. Conventions for Non-waves(tm) Format
by Jacques Terken and Mari Ostendorf

Each line contains a number of fields.  Fields are separated by
markers to facilitate extraction of information.  The format is as

field_1 ^field_2 $field_3 @field_4 ;field_5

The contents of the fields are as follows.  

Field_1 contains the orthographic transcription.  The syllable(s)
containing a pitch accent is/are marked by an asterisk (*) before the

Field_2 contains the tonal transcription, including pitch accents,
phrase accents and boundary tones.  If a word contains more than one
pitch accent, the association with asterisk-marked syllables in
Field_1 is from left to right.  Uncertainty about the occurrence or
type of pitch accent is indicated in this field using the conventions
described in Section 4.4.  In addition, the accented syllable having
highest pitch within an intermediate phrase can be marked by HiF0. The
convention is that HiF0 is associated with an accented syllable
containing an H (either H*, L+H*, L*+H or H+!H*) -- see Section 6.
Finally, the convention with respect to phrasal accents is that a
phrasal accent should be associated with the last word in the phrase,
and that it is assumed to extend backwards until the last accented
syllable in the phrase.  This association convention is needed because
the break index tier may not unambiguously indicate the location of an
intermediate phrase boundary: ``At the break index tier, a 2 may
signal a disjuncture that is weaker than expected at what is tonally a
clear intermediate ..  phrase boundary'' (See Section 3.1.)

Field_3 contains the break index value.  This value gives the strength
of the break between the word on the current line and the word on the
next line.  By definition, the beginning of a file is the beginning of
the utterance; that is, there is an implied line before the first line
only containing a 4 in the $-field, i.e. the tone field.

Field_4 contains the time markers associated with the break indices.
Since in waves(tm) each tonal marker also has a time stamp, a possible
extension is to have a list of time stamps rather than a single time
stamp.  Since phrasal accents and boundary tones are by definition
associated with word boundaries, separate time stamps would be needed
only for tonal markers containing an asterisk.  The convention would
be to associate the list of time stamps from left to right with tonal
markers and the word boundary.  If there are tonal markers associated
with the word but only one time specified in Field_4, the time marked
is by default the word boundary time.

Field_5 contains miscellaneous information comments. For comments
continuing on the next line there is an obligatory continuation marker
``;'' at the beginning of the line, as follows:

than          ^           $1   @500      ;this is so much comment about 
                                         ;all kinds of things that it 
*eight        ^h*         $1   @600      ;continues on the next lines

Thus, a typical line may be abstractly represented as:

w(*)ord ^tonal_marker $break_index @(time_stamp) time_stamp ;comment

An example of the fields of a non-waves(tm) transcription is shown
below.  (The neat organization in columns is purely for reading
convenience and is not a requirement.)  The waveform, F0 contour, and
associated labels in a waves(tm) transcription are given in Section

it's            ^               $1      @1.924903      ;
l*ovely         ^L+H* HiF0      $1      @2.303698      ;
and             ^               $1      @2.556273      ;
y*ellowish      ^L+!H* L-       $3      @3.118653      ;
and             ^               $1      @3.234365      ;
it's            ^               $1      @3.406066      ;
an              ^               $1      @3.514313      ;
*old            ^X*? HiF0       $1      @3.733797      ;
one             ^L-L%           $4      @4.074712      ;

10. Sample Utterance

Play example yellow1.wav

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