Contrastive prosody and the subsequent mention of alternatives during discourse processing

Schafer, Amy J.
Camp, Amber
Rohde, Hannah
Grüter, Theres
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Linguistic research has long viewed prosody as an important indicator of information structure in intonationally rich languages like English. Correspondingly, numerous psycholinguistic studies have shown significant effects of prosody, particularly with respect to the immediate processing of a prosodically prominent phrase. Although co-reference resolution is known to be influenced by information structure, it has been less clear whether prosodic prominence can affect decisions about next mention in a discourse, and if so, how. We present results from an open-ended story continuation task, conducted as part of a series of experiments that examine how prosody influences the anticipation and resolution of co-reference. Overall results from the project suggest that prosodic prominence can increase or decrease reference to a saliently pitch-accented phrase, depending on additional circumstances of the referential decision. We argue that an adequate account of prosody’s role in co-reference requires consideration of how the processing system interfaces with multiple levels of linguistic representation.
Prosodic analysis (Linguistics), English language--Intonation, Focus (Linguistics), Anaphora (Linguistics)
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