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date: 24 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The prosody of an utterance plays a significant role in determining the meaning of the utterance. Studying the contributions of prosody to meaning is complicated by several factors: (i) prosody has multiple components in the speech signal, some with continuous expression, (ii) utterances with the same meaning can differ in their prosodic realizations, and (iii) there is cross-linguistic prosodic variation. Concentrating on information-structural focus, this chapter illustrates how experimental investigations advance our understanding of the intricate relationship between prosody and meaning. The chapter discusses how focus is prosodically realized in different languages, how listeners perceive and interpret prosodically realized focus and how prosodically realized focus interacts with contextual information about focus. Different methods used to explore prosodically realized focus and its perception and interpretation are covered. The chapter concludes by considering research on the prosody of semantic/pragmatic phenomena related to focus, such as contrastive topic and presupposition.

Keywords: prosody, intonation, information-structural focus, cross-linguistic variation, context, production, perception and interpretation

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