The 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages

Nijmegen, The Netherlands
May 13-16, 2014

On the Elicitation of Focus – Prosodic Differences as a Function of Sentence Mode of the Context?

Frank Kügler, Susanne Genzel

Department of Linguistics and Research Centre on Information Structure (SFB 632), Potsdam University, Germany

This paper investigates whether the sentence mode of a context leads to differences in the prosodic realization of focus. Semantically, a communicative reaction in terms of a correction is expected to differ if the context is an assertion or a polar question. In two production studies using a picture naming task, 12 speakers of Mandarin Chinese were recorded reacting to context questions and context assertions which elicited focus on the subject. Experiment 1 examines the syntactic preference, i.e. the use of clefts, in responses to different contexts eliciting corrective and counterpresuppostional focus. In experiment 2, the same setting was used, but speakers were primed for their answers by test trials in order to receive comparable speech material for prosodic analysis. Results show (i) the well-known prosodic effect of focus, and (ii) no difference of elicitation method. Subject focus was preferably realized in basic SVO word order.

Index Terms: focus, context, elicitation method, Mandarin Chinese

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Kügler, Frank / Genzel, Susanne (2014): "On the elicitation of focus – prosodic differences as a function of sentence mode of the context?", In TAL-2014, 71-74.