Speech Prosody 2010

Chicago, IL, USA
May 10-14, 2010

When Intonation Plays the Main Character: Information- vs. Confirmation-Seeking Questions in Majorcan Catalan

Maria del Mar Vanrell (1,2), Ignasi Mascaró (3), Francesc Torres-Tamarit (2), Pilar Prieto (1,4)

(1) Departament de Traducció i Ciències del Llenguatge, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
(2) Centre de Lingüística Teòrica, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, Spain
(3) Secció de Llengua i Literatura, Institut Menorquí d'Estudis, Ciutadella, Spain
(4) ICREA, Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats, Barcelona, Spain

This paper explores whether information- and confirmationseeking questions are marked intonationally in Majorcan Catalan by means of three different perception tests (a congruity test, a rating test and a test based on the classical CP paradigm). The results show that a difference in pitch scaling on the leading H tone of the H+L* nuclear pitch accent is the main cue used by Majorcan listeners to identify confirmatory questions. Thus, while a ¡H+L* pitch accent signals an information-seeking question (i.e., the speaker has no expectation about the nature of the answer), H+L* pitch accent indicates that the speaker is asking about mutually shared information.

Index Terms: information-seeking questions, confirmationseeking questions, tonal perception, tonal scaling, Catalan language.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Vanrell, Maria del Mar / Mascaró, Ignasi / Torres-Tamarit, Francesc / Prieto, Pilar (2010): "When intonation plays the main character: information- vs. confirmation-seeking questions in Majorcan Catalan", In SP-2010, paper 168.