Pitch accent types and the perception of focus in Majorcan Catalan wh-questions

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This paper aims to investigate whether two intonational nuclear configurations found in Majorcan Catalan wh-questions, the falling nuclear configuration and the rising-falling one, correspond to a difference in the function of focus or whether, on the contrary, this intonational difference is mainly based on speaker attitudes conveying a neutral meaning (the falling contour) as opposed to a meaning of surprise or interest (the rising-falling contour). To this end, one production experiment and two perception experiments were carried out. Taken together, the results point to an informational and also an affective interpretation of the Effort Code (Gussenhoven 2002, 2004). Thus, even though the two intonational nuclear configurations correspond to a difference in the function of focus, they are also linked to speaker attitudes such as irritation, disapproval or reproach.


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