The interaction of syntax, prosody, and discourse in licensing French wh-in-situ questions

Viviane Déprez, Kristen Syrett, Shigeto Kawahara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The current experiment addresses the proposal by Cheng and Rooryk (2000) that wh-in-situ questions in French are marked by an obligatory rising contour, which is the result of an intonation morpheme [Q:] in C. Twelve native French speakers participated in a production study in which they produced the target interrogatives, along with a range of similar sentences. While most participants were perceived to assign wh-in-situ questions a sentence-final rise, a minority was not. Moreover, the rise associated with wh-in-situ was smaller than the rise exhibited in yes- no questions, which C&R claim to be licensed by the same morpheme. Given that these two results are unexpected under C&R's account, we conducted a further acoustic analysis of the productions, which revealed that for sentences lacking a sentence-final rise, the in situ wh-word had an elevated high pitch accent. A statistical analysis shows a negative correlation between the height of the pitch accent assigned to the wh-word and the presence and height of the sentence-final rise, indicating that instead of the sentence-final rise for wh-in-situ questions being optional, it may instead be variable and predictable by focus placed on the wh-word, for discourse reasons. We discuss three possibilities for the status of the intonation morpheme concerning yes- no and wh-questions and the role of information structure in French wh-in-situ questions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-19
Number of pages16
JournalLingua
Volume124
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jan
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

syntax
discourse
interaction
acoustics
statistical analysis
minority
experiment
Wh-in Situ
Prosody
Rise
Syntax
Interaction
Licensing
Discourse
Morpheme
Yes/no Questions
Pitch Accent
Intonation

Keywords

  • French
  • Interrogatives
  • Intonation
  • Prosody
  • Syntax
  • Wh-in-situ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

The interaction of syntax, prosody, and discourse in licensing French wh-in-situ questions. / Déprez, Viviane; Syrett, Kristen; Kawahara, Shigeto.

In: Lingua, Vol. 124, No. 1, 01.2013, p. 4-19.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Déprez, Viviane ; Syrett, Kristen ; Kawahara, Shigeto. / The interaction of syntax, prosody, and discourse in licensing French wh-in-situ questions. In: Lingua. 2013 ; Vol. 124, No. 1. pp. 4-19.
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