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Prosodic focus marking in clefts and syntactically unmarked equivalents: Prosody–syntax trade-off or additive effects?

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • Two experiments quantitatively investigated the interaction of prosody and syntax in marking focus in English. A production study with 28 participants (analyzing 919 utterances) found that the acoustic marking of subject focus vs broad focus, induced through a preceding context question, was generally the same in clefts as in sentences with unmarked syntax. Thus, results suggested that prosody is independent from syntax rather than showing a trade-off (weaker prosodic marking for clefts). Focus was marked with f0 range, f0 maxima, f0 minima, duration, and intensity. Maxima of focused subjects were not significantly higher, but they were earlier than in broad focus. In a perception experiment, 230 participants rated the suitability of 24 auditorily presented stimuli as answers to preceding context questions inducing subject focus or broad focus. Clefts and sentences prosodically marking the subject as focused were rated higher in subject focus than in broad focus contexts. Syntax and prosody did not interact, again suggesting the absence of a trade-off. Thus, both studies suggest an additive use of syntax and prosody: Prosodic focus marking was equally extensive and effective in the presence of syntactic focus marking as without.

  • Date created
    2021-01-01
  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Type of Item
    Article (Published)
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-cv1c-gb08
  • License
    Copyright (2021) Acoustical Society of America. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the Acoustical Society of America. The following article appeared in Arnhold, A. (2021). Prosodic focus marking in clefts and syntactically unmarked equivalents: Prosody – syntax trade-off or additive effects? Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 149(3), 1390–1399 and may be found at https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0003594.
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  • Citation for previous publication
    • Arnhold, Anja (2021). Prosodic focus marking in clefts and syntactically unmarked equivalents: Prosody – syntax trade-off or additive effects? Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 149(3), 1390–1399. https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0003594
  • Link to related item
    https://doi.org/10.1121/10.0003594