The intonation of German has been received a considerable attention from linguists and phoneticians, and currently there is an upsurge of interest stemming from speech technology. The goals of providing natural speech synthesis, and, in automatic speech recognition, of disambiguating alternative analyses and of identifying speaker intentions in automatic speech recognition, have received prominence in the context of large research and development projects.
It seems likely that this activity will continue, and be extended to cover increasingly sophisticated problems such as phonostylistic (e.g. fast speech) and dialectal differences, coupled with adaptive techniques for coping with them. A major heuristic contribution of these efforts has been the creation of large speech corpora which have been prosodically analysed, and the development of tractable computer-aided techniques of prosodic corpus analysis (see the overview in Gibbon ).
On the side of semantics and pragmatics, and independently of these technological developments, two main centres of linguistic interest can be currently identified: the application of interpretative methods from discourse analysis to the description of intonation, and investigation of the role of focus in formal semantics (see Quasthoff ). In these areas, increasingly detailed analyses of the functions of prosody are emerging, which cast doubt on the validity of simple functional labels such as `question intonation', `impatient intonation' and the like in view of insights into the complexity of such notions as `question' and `emotion'.