Speech Prosody 2010

Chicago, IL, USA
May 10-14, 2010

Prosody vs. Syntax: Prosodic Rebracketing of Final Vocatives in English

Hans Henrich Hock (1), Indranil Dutta (2)

(1) Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
(2) Department of Linguistics, Rice University, USA

We examine the prosodic incorporation of utterance-final vocatives in American English. Our report is based on two separate experiments to test the claim by Beckman and Pierrehumbert (1986) [1] and Pierrehumbert and Hirschberg [2] that the phonetic manifestation of an L* tone on the final vocative is indicative of its contrastive behavior. Our first experiment, involving the dramatic reading of two scenes from a make-believe play, shows that in contexts approximating natural speech, final vocatives are prosodically integrated into the matrix structure. A second experiment with decontextualized ”out-of-the-blue” readings, by contrast, shows patterns similar to Beckman and Pierrehumbert (1986)[1] and Pierrehumbert and Hirschberg [2].

Index Terms: final vocatives, prosodic incorporation, syntaxphonology interface


  1. Beckman, Mary and Pierrehumbert, Janet, “Intonational Structure in Japanese and English”, Phonology Yearbook III, 15–70, 1986.
  2. Pierrehumbert, Janet and Hirschberg, Julia, “The Meaning of Intonational Contours in the Interpretation of Discourse”, in Jerry Morgan, Philip Cohen, and Martha Pollack [Eds], Intentions in Communication, MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1990.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hock, Hans Henrich / Dutta, Indranil (2010): "Prosody vs. syntax: prosodic rebracketing of final vocatives in English", In SP-2010, paper 931.