Prosodic cues to presupposition projection

Judith Tonhauser


In English utterances with factive predicates, the content of the clausal complement of the predicate may project, i.e., taken to be a commitment of the speaker, even when the factive predicate is embedded under an entailment canceling operator (e.g., Kiparsky & Kiparsky 1971; Karttunen 1971). Based on impressionistic judgments, Beaver (2010) and Simons, Beaver, Roberts & Tonhauser (to appear) suggested that whether the content of the complement of an utterance with a factive predicate projects depends on the information structure of the utterance and, since information structure is prosodically marked, on the prosodic realization of the utterance. This paper describes the results of three perception experiments designed to explore the influence of the prosodic realization of an utterance with a factive predicate on the projection of the content of the complement. The results of the experiments suggest that the prosodic realization of such utterances provides a cue to the projectivity of the content of the complement. These findings provide empirical support for the question-based analysis of projection advanced in Simons et al. to appear.

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