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Contrast + givenness, local + non-local. The influence of complex information-structural settings on the prenuclear, nuclear and post-nuclear regions in exclamatives and questions
  • Sophie Repp,
  • Heiko Seeliger
Sophie Repp
Universität zu Köln
Heiko Seeliger
Universität zu Köln

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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The prosodic effects of contrast, which requires an increase of prosodic prominence, and givenness, which requires a decrease of prosodic prominence, so far only have been studied independently of each other, that is for contrastive new or for non-contrastive given elements. We present data from a production study in German testing the combined effects of contrast and givenness on the prosodic prominence balance in wh-exclamatives and wh-questions. Our study shows that the prosodic requirements of contrast and givenness result in additive effects: contrastive given elements are prosodically less prominent than contrastive new elements. This is reflected both in categorical and in gradient acoustic measures. We also found that contrastive given elements are less prominent than non-contrastive new elements. Importantly, the effects generally are both local and non-local, with the pre-nuclear and post-nuclear regions substantially contributing to the prominence balance within the utterance. Our study furthermore corroborates earlier findings that exclamatives and questions differ on the one hand in their sensitivity to information-structural requirements, with exclamatives showing fairly rigid accentuation patterns independently of information structure, and on the other hand in the concrete realization of prosodic prominence: In rising questions, prominent elements are marked with L* accents, rather than (L+)H* accents. The results can be accounted for if prosodic prominence is conceptualized in terms of the prominence balance of an intonation phrase, which captures large local deviations from the falling vs. rising pitch base line (high positive balance), small local deviations (level balance) as well as non-local prominence adaptations.
04 Apr 2024Submitted to Advance
05 Apr 2024Published in Advance