University of Connecticut

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Linguistics Colloquium: Michael Wagner, PhD

Friday, October 12, 2018
4:00pm – 5:30pm

Storrs Campus
OAK 112

Title: The Contradiction Contour in Question Responses and Elsewhere

Joint work with Dan Goodhue, UMD

Abstract: The so-called contradiction contour (Liberman & Sag 1974) can be used in utterances that contradict contextually salient claims. We can gain a better understanding of its meaning by looking at its interpretive effects in responses to yes/no questions. Recent research has demonstrated that English yes-no response particles are ambiguous when they occur in responses to negative yes-no questions, and reports intuitions that prosody varies according to whether the polarity of the response sentence matches or mismatches the polarity of the question (Kramer & Rawlins 2012; Farkas & Roelofsen, 2014; Krifka, 2013; Holmberg 2012/16). However, the precise effect of prosody on the interpretation of bare yes-no responses has remained unexplored. We present results from several production and perception experiments exploring how intonation interacts with the contribution of polarity particles, and what this can tell us about the syntax and semantics of response particles on the one hand and the meaning of the intonational tune on the other. We will also look at other intonational strategies used to contradict, such as polarity focus and a hitherto undescribed falling contour that is also frequently used when speakers contradict their interlocutor.

This event is sponsored by the UConn Department of Linguistics and the UConn Graduate Student Senate.


Nicolaus Schrum, 9084321875,

Linguistics Department (primary), UConn Master Calendar

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