2021-05-24Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/22948
Contrastive intonation effects on word recall for information-structural alternatives across the sexes
Sprach- und literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Focus highlights the fact that contextual alternatives are relevant for the interpretation of an utterance. For example, if someonesays:“The meeting is on TUESDAY,”with focus marked by a pitch accent on“Tuesday,”the speaker might want to correct theassumption that the meeting is on Monday (an alternative date). Intonation as one way to signal focus was manipulated in adelayed-recall paradigm. Recall of contextual alternatives was tested in a condition where a set of alternatives was evoked bycontrastive intonation. A control condition used intonation contours reported for broad focus in German. It was hypothesized thatcontrastive intonation improves recall, just as focus-sensitive particles (e.g.,‘only’) do, compared to sentences without suchparticles. Participants listened to short texts introducing a list of three elements from taxonomic categories. One of the threeelements was re-mentioned in a subsequent critical sentence, realized with either a broad (H+!H*) or with a contrastive intonationcontour (L+H*). Cued recall of the list elements was tested block-wise. Results show that contrastive intonation enhances recallfor focus alternatives. In addition, it was found that the observed recall benefit is predominantly driven by females. The resultssupport the assumption that contextual alternatives are better encoded in memory irrespective of whether focus is expressedprosodically or by a focus-sensitive particle. The results further show that females are more sensitive to pragmatic informationconveyed through prosody than males.
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