Speakers’ rapidly-updated expectations influence prosodic realization of information structure

Iris Chuoying Ouyang, Sasha Spala, Elsi Kaiser


A production experiment was conducted to investigate the role of perspective-taking in the prosodic marking of information structure. Participants played an interactive game in which they produced verbal instructions that directed an addressee to place objects in locations on the computer screen. We manipulated (i) the participants’ assumptions about the addressee’s familiarity with the objects and (ii) the addressee’s accuracy in identifying the objects. F0 measurements of the participants’ utterances were analyzed with Smoothing-spline ANOVA models. We find that speakers’ expectations about the addressee’s knowledge state influence the prosodic realization of both new and given information, and that speakers rapidly update their expectations based on the addressee’s behavior during the conversation.


discourse expectations; perspective-taking; addressee knowledge state; information structure; prosody

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v2i0.4046

Copyright (c) 2017 Iris Chuoying Ouyang, Sasha Spala, Elsi Kaiser

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