Contextual information and the prosodic realisation of focus: A cross-linguistic comparison.

Citation:

Turnbull R, Burdin RS, Clopper CG, Tonhauser J. Contextual information and the prosodic realisation of focus: A cross-linguistic comparison. . Language, Cognition, and Neuroscience [Internet]. 2015;30 (9) :1016-1076.

Abstract:

This study explored the effect of contextual predictability on the prosodic realisation of focussed expressions in American English and Paraguayan Guarani. Pairs of native speakers played an interactive game to elicit utterances that varied in the location of focus in the NP and whether this location was predictable from visual context. The English results confirmed that focussed expressions had more rising pitch accents, longer durations, and higher f0 than non-focussed expressions. Differences between focussed and non-focussed expressions were enhanced when the location of focus was not predictable from context. The Guarani results confirmed that focussed expressions had distinctive pitch accent and duration patterns relative to non-focussed expressions. Overall prosodic prominence was enhanced when the location of focus was not predictable from context. These results, which are discussed within information-based theories of language production, suggest contextual predictability affects the prosodic realisation of focus, and that this predictability dependence varies across languages.

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