Audiovisual Correlates of Interrogativity: A Comparative Analysis of Catalan and Dutch
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Languages employ different strategies to mark an utterance as a polar (yes–no) question, including syntax, intonation and gestures. This study analyzes the production and perception of information-seeking questions and broad focus statements in Dutch and Catalan. These languages use intonation for marking questionhood, but Dutch also exploits syntactic variation for this purpose. A production task revealed the expected language-specific auditory differences, but also showed that gaze and eyebrow-raising are used in this distinction. A follow-up perception experiment revealed that perceivers relied greatly on auditory information in determining whether an utterance is a question or a statement, but accuracy was further enhanced when visual information was added. Finally, the study demonstrates that the concentration of several response-mobilizing cues in a sentence is positively correlated with the perceivers’ ratings of these utterances as interrogatives.
KeywordsInformation-seeking questions Speech perception Gaze Dutch Catalan
We thank Suleman Shahid for his help in setting up the recording sessions, and Igor Jauk for his help in labeling part of the Catalan corpus. We also thank the audiences of The 13th Conference on Laboratory Phonology and The 5th European Conference on Tone and Intonation. This research has been funded by two research grants awarded by the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, namely HUM2006-13295-C02-01/FILO, FFI2009-07648/FILO and Consolider-Ingenio 2010 Program CSD2007-00012, by a grant awarded by the Generalitat de Catalunya to the Grup d’Estudis de Prosòdia (2009SGR-701), and by a “Study abroad scholarship for research outside of Catalunya” 2010 BE1 00207, awarded by the Generalitat de Catalunya.
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