Speech Prosody 2010

Chicago, IL, USA
May 10-14, 2010

Information-Seeking Questions and Incredulity Questions: Gradient or Categorical Contrast?

Verònica Crespo-Sendra (1), Maria del Mar Vanrell (1), Pilar Prieto (1,2)

((1) Departament de Traducció i Ciències del Llenguatge, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
(2) ICREA, Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats, Barcelona, Spain

This paper investigates the perceptual cues used by Catalan listeners to distinguish between information-seeking and incredulity yes/no questions. Two experiments examined the potential contribution of pitch height of the boundary tone and duration of the last syllable as primary cues in distinguishing sentence types. The results show that a difference in pitch scaling of the boundary tone HH% is the strongest cue for perceptually distinguishing between the two interpretations. Identification results and the absence of a consistent peak in Reaction Time measurements suggest that this perceptual contrast may be gradient rather than categorical in nature.

Index Terms: yes-no questions, incredulity questions, gradient contrast, categorical contrast, tonal perception, Catalan language.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Crespo-Sendra, Verònica / Vanrell, Maria del Mar / Prieto, Pilar (2010): "Information-seeking questions and incredulity questions: gradient or categorical contrast?", In SP-2010, paper 164.