When Semantics Meets Phonetics: Acoustical Studies of Second-Occurrence Focus

David I. Beaver, Brady Zack. Clark, Edward Stanton Flemming, T. Florian. Jaeger, Maria. Wolters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A second-occurrence (SO) focus is the semantic focus of a focus-sensitive operator (e.g. only), but is a repeat of an earlier focused occurrence. We report on the first systematic production and perception experiments to show that SO foci occurring after a nuclear accent are, as Routh (1996b) has claimed, prosodically marked. We find that (i) there is no mean pitch rise on SO foci, (ii) SO foci are marked by longer duration and greater energy, and (iii) listeners are able to detect the difference between SO foci and nonfoci. On the basis of these results, we argue that SO focus is compatible with theories of focus interpretation that it has been claimed to contradict.*
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-276
JournalLanguage
Volume83
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

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