Nonlocal Effects of Prosodic Boundaries

By Carlson, Katy; Clifton, Charles et al. | Memory & Cognition, October 2009 | Go to article overview

Nonlocal Effects of Prosodic Boundaries


Carlson, Katy, Clifton, Charles, Frazier, Lyn, Memory & Cognition


Placing a prosodic boundary before a phrase may influence its syntactic analysis. However, the boundary's effect depends on the presence, size, and position of other, earlier, prosodic boundaries. In three experiments, we extend previous results about the effect of the position of the early boundary. In sentences in which a final phrase may modify either a local verb or an earlier verb, a boundary immediately after the first verb leads to more first-verb attachments than when the earlier boundary appears in another position between the two verbs (Experiments 1 and 2). This effect cannot be attributed to weaker effects of more distant boundaries (Experiment 2), but is likely due to the first verb being more prominent when a boundary immediately follows it, since similar effects are observed when the verb is accented (Experiment 3). The results support the informative boundary hypothesis and show that the impact of earlier, nonlocal boundaries is not fully uniform.

There has been considerable interest in the question of how intonation-in particular, prosodic boundaries- influences the processing of a sentence (e.g., Beach, 1991; Kjelgaard & Speer, 1999; Kraljic & Brennan, 2005; Lehiste, 1973; Nespor & Vogel, 1986; Price, Ostendorf, Shattuck-Hufnagel, & Fong, 1991; Pynte & Prieur, 1996; Schafer, Speer, Warren, & White, 2000). The vast majority of researchers have examined sentences in which the presence or location of a single prosodic boundary affects the division of a sentence into syntactic phrases or affects the attachment of one phrase to others.

In our previous work, we investigated the effect of multiple prosodic boundaries, which led to the informative boundary hypothesis (Carlson, Clifton, & Frazier, 2001; Clifton, Carlson, & Frazier, 2002; cf. Schafer, 1997, for a position similar in some respects to ours). This hypothesis is that listeners interpret a prosodic boundary before a constituent that could be attached to either of two earlier constituents with reference to the presence and size of any relevant earlier boundary. For example, in Example 1 after John visited can be attached to the phrase headed by learned, where it modifies learned as in the paraphrase in Example 1a, or it can be attached to telephoned, for the meaning in Example 1b.

(1) Susie learned that Bill telephoned after John visited.

a. Susie learned (after John visited) that Bill telephoned.

b. Susie learned something-namely, that Bill telephoned after John visited.

If there are no relevant earlier boundaries, a boundary before the ambiguously attached constituent discourages local (low) attachment (see, e.g., Price et al., 1991). That is, a prosodic boundary immediately preceding after John visited may favor attachment to the high attachment site learned rather than to the low attachment site telephoned. But, according to the informative boundary hypothesis, if a (relevant) earlier prosodic boundary is larger than the boundary after telephoned, the prosody may still favor local attachment of after John visited to telephoned, even though a prosodic boundary intervenes. The informative boundary hypothesis takes a relevant earlier boundary to be a boundary that intervenes between the possible low and high attachment sites.

To specify the size of a boundary, we assume a phonological system that distinguishes word boundaries, intermediate phrase (ip) boundaries, and intonational phrase (IPh) boundaries. An IPh is the largest unit, and it contains one or more ips. An ip must contain one or more words and at least one accented constituent. These prosodic units (as well as prosodic words) are identified following the ToBI system, a prosodic annotation procedure inspired by Pierrehumbert (1980) and explained in Beckman and Elam (1997). The ends of both types of prosodic phrases (IPhs and ips) are associated with tonal changes, increased duration, and optional pausing, with IPhs involving more extreme changes. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Nonlocal Effects of Prosodic Boundaries
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.