‘Intonational Disambiguation in Sentence Production and Comprehension’

Department of Linguistics, University of California at Los Angeles 90095-1543, USA.
Journal of Psycholinguistic Research (Impact Factor: 0.59). 04/2000; 29(2):169-82. DOI: 10.1023/A:1005192911512
Source: PubMed


Speakers' prosodic marking of syntactic constituency is often measured in sentence reading tasks that lack realistic situational constraints on speaking. Results from such studies can be criticized because the pragmatic goals of readers differ dramatically from those of speakers in typical conversation. On the other hand, recordings of unscripted speech do not readily yield the carefully controlled contrasts required for many research purposes. Our research employs a cooperative game task, in which two speakers use utterances from a predetermined set to negotiate moves around gameboards. Results from a set of early versus late closure ambiguities suggest that speakers signal this syntactic difference with prosody even when the utterance context fully disambiguates the structure. Phonetic and phonological analyses show reliable prosodic disambiguation in speakers' productions; results of a comprehension task indicate that listeners can successfully use prosodic cues to categorize syntactically ambiguous fragments as portions of early or late closure utterances.

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    • "As stated above, multiple studies have demonstrated that overt prosodic phrasing can influence syntactic attachment. For example, we know that listeners resist syntactic attachments across overt prosodic boundaries (e.g., Snedeker and Trueswell 2003; Schafer et al. 2000; Pynte and Prieur 1996). Of course, researchers cannot explicitly manipulate the presence of phrase boundaries in what participants read; therefore, they have generally followed Fodor's (2002) four-step procedure to test for implicit prosodic effects on attachment preferences: (9) [1] Find a factor F, which can be manipulated in an experiment, and which measurably affects the OVERT prosody of a sentence. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recently, psycholinguistics has seen an increase in the number of empirical studies investigating the role of implicit (silent) prosodic representations in reading. The current paper reviews studies from the last several years conducted to investigate Fodor's (2002) Implicit Prosody Hypothesis, which maintains that even during silent reading, readers generate representations of sentence intonation, phrasing, stress, and rhythm, and that these representations can affect readers' interpretation of the text. We argue that the accumulated evidence suggests that implicit prosody can influence online sentence interpretation and explore the implications of these findings for models of sentence processing. For over one hundred years, researchers have wondered about the nature of the inner voice during silent reading. Huey (1908/1968) was one of the first to ponder this idea, concluding: 'The simple fact is that the inner saying or hearing of what is read seems to be the core of ordinary reading, the "thing in itself," so far as there is such a part of such a complex process' (p. 122). This assumption, that the inner voice is part and parcel of any normal reading, has been maintained for the majority of the 20th century. Chafe (1988) recounts the writings of Eudora Welty and Russell C. Long on the topic, concluding:
    Language and Linguistics Compass 02/2014; 82(10):37-501111. DOI:10.1111/lnc3.12061
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    • "It has been shown that the rich intonational system of intonation languages is also used to indicate and parse the syntactic structure of utterances (e.g. [1], [2], [3]). Hindi, by contrast, is a 'phrase language' ([4], [5]), in which the melody of sentences is primarily determined by rather invariant phrasal tones. "
    Dataset: 100014

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    • "Note, however, that roughly two thirds of their L2 learners did not show sensitivity to prosodic information, and proficiency (as established by the numbers of semesters of French) was not a good predictor of L2 learners' ability to use prosodic information in sentence comprehension. By contrast, in a partial replication of Schafer et al. (2000), Hwang and Schafer (2006) found a significant effect of L2 proficiency in the use of prosodic information for syntactic disambiguation by Korean L2 learners of English. This indicates that L2 learners can use prosodic information in sentence comprehension, but the circumstances under which they do so requires further investigation. "

    2011 Second Language Research Forum: Converging Theory and Practice; 01/2013
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