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The intonational meaning of polar questions in Manchego Spanish spontaneous speech

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Abstract

Previous work on Spanish intonation has not sufficiently addressed the formmeaning patterns that govern pragmatic use in spontaneous interaction. This study is an initial attempt to examine the pragmatic use of polar question intonation in Manchego Spanish conversational speech. First, we document L+H H% and L+H L% as the most common nuclear configurations. Second, we argue that for these two configurations, speakers communicate a layer of meaning in addition to interrogativity: L+H H% signals speaker-attributed thoughts, whereas L+H L% signals other-attributed thoughts. These results constitute empirical support for Escandell-Vidal’s (1998) Relevance Theory account on polar question intonation in Peninsular Spanish. One contribution of our empirical approach is that we show that L H% configurations are especially rare in spontaneous speech.

References

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