Speech Prosody 2010

Chicago, IL, USA
May 10-14, 2010

Intonational Encoding of Pragmatic Meaning in Puerto Rican Spanish Interrogatives

Meghan E. Armstrong (1,2)

(1) Department of Spanish and Portuguese, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
(2) Departament de Traducció i Ciències del Llenguatge, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

Puerto Rican Spanish, a variety that prefers a final rise-fall rather than a fall-rise for yes-no questions has been claimed to have a default contour for information-seeking questions and a special configuration used only for biased negative questions. This study investigates the pragmatic division of labor for the nuclear configurations used for information-seeking questions, confirmation-seeking questions, biased negative questions and incredulity questions. Four contours are presented here: H* L%, (H+)L* HL%, H+L* L% and L+¡H* L%. None of these were favored significantly for the biased negation condition, disfavoring the idea that there is a special contour used for biased negative questions. H+L* L% was the most common contour (52%) for the information-seeking question condition, and was found to be the least preferred for biased contexts. However, H* L% was also commonly found for informationseeking questions (41%). A native speaker judged H* L% and L+¡H* L% as indicating interest and/or surprise while this did not seem to be the case for H+L* L%, indicating a possible relationship between tune choice and level of speaker affectedness in Puerto Rican Spanish. The rather consistent use of (H+)L* HL% for a specific type of surprise, incredulity, also supports this idea.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Armstrong, Meghan E. (2010): "Intonational encoding of pragmatic meaning in Puerto Rican Spanish interrogatives", In SP-2010, paper 412.