Some Notes on PoLaR
PoLaR is a framework for systematic annotation of suprasegmental properties of speech. A chief characteristic of PoLaR is that it aims to decompose prosodic labels into individual prosodic characteristics and cues to prosodic categories, as opposed to transcribing bundles of features (i.e., phones) or cognitive categories (i.e., phonemes).
"PoLaR" stands for Points, Levels, and Ranges, as these are three of the core tiers for this system of annotating prosody and prosodic characteristics. (A brief overview is given here.)
PoLaR facilitates the labelling of individual prosodic characteristics and cues to those characteristics. Characteristics/cues are unbundled from one another on individual tiers, with labels being maximally transparent. There are four tiers at the core of PoLaR: the Prosodic Structure tier for prominence and phrasing, the Points tier for turning points of the intonational contour, the Levels tier for scaled pitch values, and the Ranges tier for local pitch ranges. (Thus an individual phonological label such as H* or L-L% will be decomposed into their more atomic phonological and acoustic components, across multiple tiers.)
This system is designed to be easy to learn for novices, provides advantages for experienced labellers, and can facilitate analysis of prosodic data in a range of domains (within and beyond phonetics/phonology).
While the incarnation of PoLaR described in the guidelines is geared towards analyzing a language like English, PoLaR annotation has been designed as a framework that can be used to any register, dialect, or language. It can even be used without a pre-existing understanding of the phonological system(s) of the speakers whose speech is being analyzed, and users of PoLaR labelling are encouraged to apply it to data from a range of different domains (including a variety of different languages, sources, and contexts).
While PoLaR doesn’t require commitment to a particular phonological model, its labels provide a means of systematically labelling prosodic characteristics. As such, it can be used alongside existing phonological models as a way to help further exploring what sorts of models are appropriate for the attested range of data.
PoLaR can facilitate the discovery of new generalizations about the link between prosodic form (perhaps at the sub-phonemic level) and linguistic meaning. Because it can be used with minimal training, it can be used by researchers with a range of goals, backgrounds, and specializations.
How to Cite PoLaR
Ahn, Byron, Nanette Veilleux, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, and Alejna Brugos. 2021. PoLaR Annotation Guidelines (version 1.0). Available at https://osf.io/usbx5/. doi: 10.17605/OSF.IO/USBX5.