Contrastive Prosody and the Subsequent Mention of Alternatives During Discourse Processing
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.
We are grateful to all who made it possible for us to join in the celebration of Lyn Frazier and her contributions to our field, including, most prominently, Lyn Frazier herself. This research was supported by a grant to T. Grüter and A. Schafer from the National Science Foundation (BCS-1251450). It was further supported by research assistance from A. L. Blake, Bonnie Fox, Victoria Lee, Wenyi Ling, Ivana Matson, and Maho Takahashi, and helpful comments from the reviewers of this chapter and attendees at Lynschrift18. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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