December 6-9 2021

University of Southern Denmark (SDU) - Campus Sonderborg

& online

1st International Conference on TONE AND INTONATION (TAI) 2021

"Tone and Intonation in a globalized, digital world"

TAI 2021 welcomes contributions on all phonological, phonetic, and typological aspects of tone and intonation in any language. In addition, in TAI 2021 two separate special sessions will be dedicated to the challenges and opportunities that globalization and digitalization hold for the speech sciences.

Globalization poses increasing challenges to both, societies and individuals i terms of language contact and language acquisition.
Digitalization opens up new ways of human-human and human-machine interaction. In both contexts, tone and intonation are special linguistic, technical and didactic hurdles. Their better understanding not only has the potential for deeper insights into the nature of speech communication, but can also decisively shape the communication of tomorrow.

Best regards from Southern Denmark
Oliver Niebuhr





Find us and other events on the Sociolinguistic Events Calendar  and on SProSIG.  



06 December: Centre for Industrial Electronics (CIE) at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) on science campus Alsion, Sonderborg, Denmark. The SDU is both the third-largest and the third-oldest Danish university. Since the introduction of the ranking systems in 2012, the University of Southern Denmark has consistently been ranked as one of the top 50 young universities in the world by both the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the QS World University Rankings. The SDU is also among the top 20 universities in Scandinavia.       
Admission to SDU requires a valid corona passport 

New COVID-19 restrictions mean that students, employees and visitors to SDU must be able to present a valid corona passport at SDU’s locations from Monday 29 November. Random inspections will be carried out.
From Monday 29 November, you must either be vaccinated or be able to present a valid negative test for COVID-19 if you show up at SDU.
The Epidemic Committee of the Danish Parliament has adopted new restrictions, which means that employees, students and visitors at higher education institutions are required to have a valid corona passport.
The new restrictions also mean that the validity of a negative COVID-19 test will be shortened. A negative PCR test is now only valid for 72 hours, while an antigen test (rapid test) is valid for 48 hours.
Random inspections at the University
Starting Monday 29 November, SDU will, as a result of the new rules, carry out random inspections to ensure students, staff and visitors have a valid corona passport. The random inspections are carried out by corona guards with clear markings on their clothes.
SDU is awaiting more detailed rules from the Danish Agency for Higher Education and Science. Following this, SDU will spend the next few days preparing specific guidelines for handling the new restrictions at SDU. The new guidelines will be posted at and at the beginning of next week.
Hopefully, the requirement for a valid corona passport in case of in-person attendance at SDU can also help create peace of mind among students, staff and visitors, knowing that everyone else has also been vaccinated or tested recently. 

The situation is being closely monitored
SDU’s management appeals to students and staff to continue to follow the authorities’ recommendations and show consideration by following the University’s principles of caution, inclusiveness and trust.
Any students who become infected with COVID-19 are encouraged to register this via the Corona button in SPOC
Any employees who become infected with COVID-19 are encouraged to follow the normal procedure for notification of illness.  
Information about cases of infection at SDU can prove helpful if other students or staff at SDU need to be informed in the event the infected person does not have contact information for any close contacts.
Through the Corona button in SPOC, students can also submit questions that may not have been answered in the FAQ.
In the event of any further measures, the information is announced via SDU’s own channels.
Read more about the coronavirus and the health authorities’ current recommendations at

Please note that the conference will take place as a hybrid event.
That is, in addition to real life participation and presentation, we will organize (for a reduced registration fee) a virtual participation and presentation option for those participants who cannot or would for other reasons prefer not to travel in these days. The virtual branch of the conference will be based on Gather Town and will include both oral and poster presentations. All further information will be announced as soon as we know, how many online/offline registrations we receive.



Mariapaola D'Imperio, Rutgers University, USA: Perceiving intonation in a multifaceted society: the role of cognitive and indexical factors

Peggy Mok, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China:  The Acquisition of lexical tone in various contexts
Stefan Baumann, University of Cologne, Germany: Are highlighted words always informative? On the complex relationship between prosodic prominence and meaning.

Hans Basbøll, SDU, Denmark: Danish stød in its phonetic. phonological, morphological and lexical aspects, and its relation
to Scandinavian tonal word accents


by the Main Organizer of the 1st International Conference of Tone and Intonation: TAI 2021

A foreword should be timeless, yes, that's right. But it should also reflect the thoughts and activities that shaped the moments in which it was written. In my case, the connection that reconciles both opposing requirements can be, for example, the term "exponential growth". Exponential growth in the form of the Corona pandemic determines our current everyday life. It depends on the status of the pandemic’s exponential growth when we can go where, what we can do, and who and how many people we can meet. The term "exponential growth" does normally not apply to the organization of an international conference. The workload in organizing a conference tends to grow linearly the closer the conference gets – normally. In the case of the TAI, there were often moments when I and certainly also many other members of TAI’s hard-working organization team thought that the dynamics of the Corona pandemic carried over to the conference itself and made the workload grow exponentially rather than linearly until the beginning of the conference. And yet we have managed that you, dear reader, can now read this text in the TAI Book of Abstracts, that we have an exciting program of social activities – both on site and in the virtual Virbela world – that we can hear four excellent international keynotes, and that over 150 registered linguists and speech scientists can exchange their latest data, conclusions, hypotheses and ideas in the form of over 80 posters and about 40 oral presentations. We owe this to the hard work of the entire organizational team and the Scientific Committee of the TAI, and I would like to take this opportunity here to thank each one of them for his or her great support!
Conducting a hybrid conference during a pandemic is also made possible thanks to modern communication technology, which is continuously becoming faster, better and more powerful. That is good in two senses. For one thing, modern communication technology helps us reduce our CO2 emissions by connecting us without us being physically in contact with one another. Sure, it's not the same. But the experience and the interaction dynamics are getting better and better almost every month. For this conference, the saved flight miles alone mean about 290 tons of CO2 less in the atmosphere, not counting the transfer to and from the airport and all other energy consumers. Even if we subtract the energy from the servers that handle our digital communication, the balance is still overwhelmingly positive. In organizing the TAI, we are in fact very careful to keep the carbon footprint of the conference small. Our food, for example, comes from a caterer who significantly reduces its carbon footprint every year, and our awards are made of wood and recycled 3d-printed plastics. In addition, we did not include the usual USB stick in the goodie bag, but made all PDFs and conference information available online.
Secondly, modern communication technology is also a driving force for our research. People all around the world experience everyday through speaking machines how important tone and intonation are for successful and multifaceted communication. Modern communication technology brings us a multitude of new research questions. But it also confronts us with the task of accepting the challenges behind these questions. Speaking (or, more generally, multimodal communication) is important for humans, so important that it is almost perfectly integrated into our motor, physiological, cognitive, and receptive abilities; perhaps it even developed further in a co-evolution with these abilities. Anyone who researches speech is holding a tool of understanding in hand that is relevant to practically all situations and contexts of people’s daily life. Speaking and listening to speech happens everywhere; and I venture to make the admittedly bold assertion here that there is no stimulus in the world – especially no sound stimulus – that we humans do not directly or indirectly project onto the phonetics, phonology and syntagmatic structure of the languages ​​we learn. This is the key scientific approach of our CIE Acoustics Laboratory, in which we research the production and perception of hate speech and charismatic public-speaking skills as well as the right sound design for machines and musical instruments. In short, researching language and speaking is immensely important, much more important than is, unfortunately, currently perceived by the general public, the industry, and international research-funding institutions. In this respect, this foreword is also a cautious appeal that we should not leave it to machines, AIs and big-data collectors to do the research that helps solve people’s everyday issues with respect to language and speech matters. We can and we should make a relevant contribution. In this regard, the TAI sets accents in the form of two special sessions that deal with language learning and related interference effects in the context of globalization as well as with digital and multimodal communication signals – both, of course, with regard to tone and intonation.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that bringing together research on tone and intonation, which will hopefully succeed over many years on the basis of the new TAI conference series, can be a key to better understanding the prosodic form-function relationships as well as the production and perception of prosody as a whole. In this sense, the TAI forces us to think outside the box and to experience new sound and melody patterns, and that's a good thing. Accordingly, it is nice to see that a substantial proportion of all TAI submissions - almost 20 % in fact – deal with the interplay of tone and intonation, either in relation to speech production or speech perception. Almost 400 authors from a total of 33 countries contributed to the TAI's accepted submissions (acceptance rate being about 80 %). Moreover, reflecting the international spirit of the conference, the almost 140 accepted submissions come in roughly equal proportions from Asia, the Americas, and Europe.
I don't think we need more statistics in a foreword. Therefore, I would now like to end with my welcome note and once again thank everyone involved in the TAI for their courageous commitment. And because others always find better closing words than oneself, I declare the first TAI as opened with the words of the poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. May her words also inspire the TAI conference!
Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.” Maya Angelou

Oliver Niebuhr
Sønderborg, 02 December 2021



(click on the logo for further information)
Research topic:                                                                                                                     Submission Deadlines:
Effective and Attractive Communication Signals                                                         Abstract:      01 October 2021    
in Social, Cultural, and Business Contexts                                                                        Manuscript:  01 March 2022

One day before TAI ( 05 Dec.2021) there will be a new and very special event:
The 2nd edition of "Linguistweets"
The TAI team is happy to join this innovative initiative of our Brazilian colleagues and we will add it as
a satellite event to the 4-day programme of the TAI conference.



Register now


Cookies policy