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The role of contrastive intonation contours in the retrieval of contextual alternatives

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Braun,  Bettina
Language Comprehension Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Mechanisms and Representations in Comprehending Speech, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

Tagliapietra,  Lara
Language Comprehension Group, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Decoding Continuous Speech , MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Braun, B., & Tagliapietra, L. (2010). The role of contrastive intonation contours in the retrieval of contextual alternatives. In D. G. Watson, M. Wagner, & E. Gibson (Eds.), Experimental and theoretical advances in prosody (pp. 1024-1043). Hove: Psychology Press.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-3135-4
Abstract
Sentences with a contrastive intonation contour are usually produced when the speaker entertains alternatives to the accented words. However, such contrastive sentences are frequently produced without making the alternatives explicit for the listener. In two cross-modal associative priming experiments we tested in Dutch whether such contextual alternatives become available to listeners upon hearing a sentence with a contrastive intonation contour compared with a sentence with a non-contrastive one. The first experiment tested the recognition of contrastive associates (contextual alternatives to the sentence-final primes), the second one the recognition of non-contrastive associates (generic associates which are not alternatives). Results showed that contrastive associates were facilitated when the primes occurred in sentences with a contrastive intonation contour but not in sentences with a non-contrastive intonation. Non-contrastive associates were weakly facilitated independent of intonation. Possibly, contrastive contours trigger an accommodation mechanism by which listeners retrieve the contrast available for the speaker.