This paper deals with average prosodic characteristics of Estonian as observed in 25 hours of manually transcribed spontaneous speech. The proposed investigations address the prosodic realisations on a lexical basis, as one of the goals is to make use of these characteristics within the lexical decision process of automatic speech recognition systems. As a first step, the speech corpus was split into word categories according to lexical frequency (most frequent vs. less frequent words), syllabic word length and gender. Average prosodic profiles were computed with respect to fundamental frequency, segment duration and intensity. Statistical analyses confirm a word-initial syllable stress with high average f0 and intensity values, which then progressively decrease towards word-final syllables. Prosodic profiles also reveal that the longer the words, the higher these word-initial stress values are. Whereas f0 and intensity profiles show very similar profiles across word categories, duration profiles reveal less regular patters. For the frequent word category, a rising duration can be observed from the first to final vowels, whilst the other words show longer duration in monosyllabic words and in final vowels of 4-syllabic words. Overall, our results suggest that prosodic cues could contribute to word boundary location in continuous speech.
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