Towards an intonational-illocutionary interface

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Sentence – or rather, utterance – intonation poses an interesting conceptual challenge for any linguistic theory that assumes a rigid separation of phonological and pragmatic representations (as assumed in current Minimalist theory), as does the interaction of structure with speech act (examined in detail by Sadock 1974). This paper seeks to demonstrate that intonation and illocutionary force all too often correlate with one another, with or without the mediation of syntactic form, and argues that this correlation warrants the hypothesis of an interface between intonation and illocutionary force, with both matches and mismatches, in continuation of the automodular view of language advocated by Sadock (1991 et seq.). Citing evidence from child language, dialectal variation, and autism research in Bangla and Hindi, besides research on Norwegian intonation and pragmatic particles (Fretheim 1993), the paper claims that an account in terms of a direct intonational-illocutionary interface proves to have the advantage of economy.


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