Testing contrastive inferences from suprasegmental features using offline measures

Anna Alsop, Elaine Stranahan, Kathryn Davidson

Abstract


Speakers add modifiers to the extent that they are informative (Grice 1975); studies using the visual world eye-tracking paradigm find that the use of pre-nominal modifiers (short, big) leads listeners to infer the existence of similar objects differing along that same scale (Grodner & Sedivy 2011; Sedivy et al. 1999). In this study, we probe these contrastive inferences using an offline questionnaire, paired with audio/video stimuli to ask whether similar inferences extend to two types of suprasegmental features: prosodic focus and depictive co-speech gestures. Our results suggest that the presence of a scalar adjective robustly leads to contrastive inferences in this offline forced choice paradigm, and that the robustness of the lexical pattern persists even when prosodic focus would indicate otherwise. Prosodic focus does, however, appear to modulate the contrastive effect of a given pre-nominal modifier. We find that the same pragmatic process fails to extend to depictive co-speech gestures, supporting a semantic analysis of these gestures as generally not-at-issue contributions.

Keywords


contrastive inference; focus; co-speech gesture

Full Text:

PDF


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v3i1.4386

Copyright (c) 2018 Anna Alsop, Elaine Stranahan, Kathryn Davidson

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Donate to the Open-Access Fund of the LSA

Linguistic Society of America


Advancing the Scientific Study of Language

ISSN (online): 2473-8689

This publication is made available for free to readers and with no charge to authors thanks in part to your continuing LSA membership and your donations to the open access fund.

The LSA is pleased to announce that Steve Anderson, former LSA President, has offered to match all donations made to the Society’s open access fund, up to $10,000, between now and the end of 2019. more ...