Speech Prosody 2010

Chicago, IL, USA
May 10-14, 2010

Prosodic Effects of Discourse Salience and Association with Focus

Michael Wagner (1), M. Breen (2), E. Flemming (3), Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel (3), E. Gibson (3)

(1) Department of Linguistics, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
(2) Department of Psychology, UMass Amherst, MA, USA
(3) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

Three factors that have been argued to influence the prosody of an utterance are (i) which constituents encode discourse-salient information; (ii) which constituents are contrastive and evoke alternatives; and (iii) which constituents interact with the meaning of focus operators such as only (i.e., they ‘associate' with focus). One challenge for a better understanding of the prosodic effects of these factors has been the difficulty of finding a way to evaluate hypotheses quantitatively, since individual variation in productions is often large enough to wash out experimental effects. In this paper, we apply a methodology introduced in [1] which regresses out subject and item variation, uncovering otherwise hidden prosodic patterns, and show how the three factors interact in sentences containing single or multiple foci.

Index Terms: prosody, focus association, givenness, prominence, production

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Wagner, Michael / Breen, M. / Flemming, E. / Shattuck-Hufnagel, Stefanie / Gibson, E. (2010): "Prosodic effects of discourse salience and association with focus", In SP-2010, paper 239.