Speech Prosody 2008

Campinas, Brazil
May 6-9, 2008

Encoding Interrogativity Intonationally in a Second Language

Aoju Chen (1), Ineke Mennen (2)

(1) Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
(2) Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK

This study investigated how untutored learners encode interrogativity intonationaly in a second language. Questions produced in free conversation were selected from longitudinal data of four untutored Italian learners of English. The questions were mostly wh-questions (WQs) and declarative questions (DQs). We examined the use of three cross-linguistically attested question cues: final rise, high peak and late peak. It was found that across learners the final rise occurred more frequently in DQs than in WQs. This is in line with the Functional Hypothesis whereby less syntactically-marked questions are more intonationally marked. However, the use of peak height and alignment is less consistent. The peak of the nuclear pitch accent was not necessarily higher and later in DQs than in WQs. The difference in learners’ exploitation of these cues can be explained by the relative importance of a question cue in the target language.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Chen, Aoju / Mennen, Ineke (2008): "Encoding interrogativity intonationally in a second language", In SP-2008, 513-516.