Speech Prosody 2008

Campinas, Brazil
May 6-9, 2008

Semantic Judgments as Evidence for the Intonational Structure of Dutch

Carlos Gussenhoven

Department of Linguistics, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands, and
School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, Queen Mary, University of London, UK

A perception task elicited judgments from 20 Dutch listeners involving a choice between a modal and a lexical meaning of three ambiguous words in Dutch. On the basis of descriptions in the literarture, it was hypothesized that the lexical interpretation is favored if (a) there is an intonational boundary between the ambiguous word and the following pitch accent, and (b) if pitch accents on either side of the boundary are identical. The results support this assumption. The data provide semantic evidence for a number of positions in the literature. First, the accentual rise-fall must be a HL contour (i.e. a fall, H*L) rather than a LH contour (i.e. a rise, LH*). Second, the results indicate that the presence of a low target immediately after the H-marked accented syllable signals an intonational boundary if the pitch remains low level until the next pitch accent, but not if the pitch after the post-accent low rises to the next accent. These results favor an analysis as given in the British English literature for English and as provided by ToDI for Dutch, and fail to support the contrary analytical assumptions made for MAE ToBI.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Gussenhoven, Carlos (2008): "Semantic judgments as evidence for the intonational structure of Dutch", In SP-2008, 297-300.