Delexicalised Auditory Priming of Implicit Prosody

Joy Mills


This study used a cross-modal priming paradigm to investigate whether delexicalised auditory priming will influence relative clause (RC) disambiguation in silent reading. Two predictions of the Implicit Prosody Hypothesis were investigated: that an early prosodic break will lead to increased low attachment, and that longer RCs are more likely to attach high, known as an “antigravity effect.” In each trial, subjects heard three different sentences that had been delexicalised into “fafafa speech.” These were randomly selected from 9 primes with the same prosodic break (early, late, control) that matched the target sentence in RC length (short, long). The ambiguous visual target sentence appeared, followed by an attachment question with a two-alternative forced choice task between N1 or N2. Our initial hypothesis of a priming effect from delexicalised auditory stimuli on RC ambiguity resolution was confirmed, suggesting that prosody alone can influence attachment preference. Participants were significantly more likely to attach low after hearing primes in the early boundary condition. We also found a surprising interaction: when late boundary primes were combined with short RCs, subjects were significantly more likely to choose high attachment. Additional research is required to determine if the presence of either prosodic break has a similar effect.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-60

Cite as: Mills, J. (2020) Delexicalised Auditory Priming of Implicit Prosody. Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020, 295-298, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-60.


@inproceedings{Mills2020,
  author={Joy Mills},
  title={{Delexicalised Auditory Priming of Implicit Prosody}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. 10th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2020},
  pages={295--298},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-60},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2020-60}
}