Speech Prosody 2002

Aix-en-Provence, France
April 11-13, 2002

Downtrends in Different Types of Question in Estonian

Eva Liina Asu

Department of Linguistics, University of Cambridge, UK

The present paper investigates the issue of downtrends in different types of yes/no question in Estonian. The types that are compared comprise those beginning with an interrogative particle kas (whether), tag questions ending with the particle või (or), and morphosyntactically unmarked questions. It appears that these differ with respect to the slope of the fall in prenuclear accents and the step between the final prenuclear and nuclear accent. Tag and unmarked questions show a similar prenuclear slope but differ in the step; kas-questions have a significantly different slope from the other two types. A further comparison is made with statements, revealing that the question type most similar to statements is the kas-question. It is suggested that this is because the questioning particle in the beginning of an utterance signals a question immediately, and thus less intonational marking is needed. The other two types of question are either not marked morphosyntactically at all, or have marking only at the very end, and consequently a larger degree of intonational marking is used for conveying interrogativity.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Asu, Eva Liina (2002): "Downtrends in different types of question in Estonian", In SP-2002, 143-146.