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Interfacing information and prosody

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Abstract

We present experimental evidence bearing on Cheng and Rooryck&#8217;s (2000) proposal that French <i>wh-in-situ</i> questions are licensed by an intonational morpheme also present in <i>yes-no</i> questions and their claim that such questions are ungrammatical without a rising contour. While most participants produced a rising contour, not all did; when they did, the slope was not as steep as in <i>yes-no</i> questions. Our findings support C&#38;R&#8217;s proposal, admitting the central role of information structure. We support a view of question formation in French in which information structure, syntax, and prosody form a tight relationship: the shape of the syntactically-designated contour is affected by pragmatic information. We present a theoretical account appealing to movement through givenness-marking that explains the observed pitch compression. Keywords:&#65279;&#65279; wh-questions; French interrogatives; prosody; information structure; givenness

References

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