[PS-2.51] On the prosodic structure of English Intransitives

Huang, Y.

Harvard University

It has been observed that the prosody of English intransitive sentences can vary in a broad focus context, i.e., the sentential focus can be realized on either the subject only or on both the subject and the verb. Some linguistic analyses explain the variation by the difference in the type of predicates. Researchers have been testing this hypothesis with perception and production studies. However, the results of these studies are contradictory to each other (Hoskins 1996, Irwin 2011, Hirsch and Wagner, 2011). I conducted a production study with the two types of predicates as two conditions, manipulating the prosodic structure with the questions asked in the study. I elicited the broad focus, measured the duration, intensity and F0 of the subjects and predications, and conducted an additional prosodic analysis with TOBI system. The results of TOBI transcription shows that the variation of prosody does exist. However, the variation cannot be explained by the difference in the predicates (Fisher's Exact Test p=0.29). There was also no significant difference between the two predicate conditions w.r.t duration, intensity or F0 (all p>0.5). I will discuss the challenge and implication the results post on the current prosodic theory.