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Nordic Prosody

Proceedings of the XIIth Conference, Trondheim 2016

Edited By Jardar Eggesbö Abrahamsen, Jacques Koreman and Wim van Dommelen

This volume contains articles based on the presentations given at the Nordic Prosody XII conference, which was held at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (Trondheim, Norway) in August 2016. The contributors investigate various prosodic aspects, including intonation, rhythm, speaking rate, intensity, and breathing, using approaches ranging from phonetic and phonological analysis to speech technology methods. While most of the studies examine read speech, some of them explore the prosodics of spontaneous speech. The languages that receive most attention are Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic as well as Estonian, Latgalian and Polish. In addition to the larger Nordic languages, several papers focus on regional languages spoken in these areas.

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On the intonation of Swedish rejections and rejecting questions (Heiko Seeliger / Sophie Repp)


Heiko Seeliger, Sophie Repp

On the intonation of Swedish rejections and rejecting questions

Abstract: A production study of Swedish declaratives which can be interpreted as rejections or as rejecting questions (RQs, roughly ‘disbelieving’ questions) shows that RQs differ from rejections in maximum f0 and f0 excursion of the accented syllables, and in the duration and peak alignment of the pre-final syllable. The differences match those that have been observed in comparisons of ‘ordinary’ declarative questions and assertions. The study included a manipulation of semantic focus (verb/object).

1. Introduction

In Swedish main clause declaratives, the negative marker inte can optionally front to the sentence-initial, pre-verbal position in certain contexts, see (1a), which shows the normal position of the negation, and (1b), which shows the same sentence with fronted negation.

According to Petersson (2008), (1b) can be read either as a rejection of a previously asserted claim that Anna is painting Maja, or as a type of question with the rough English translation Surely Anna is not painting Maja?1 Following Seeliger (2015), we call the question reading of (1b) rejecting question (RQ). RQs are felicitous in a situation where the speaker had assumed the negative proposition denoted by the declarative (¬p) to be true, but where there is contextual evidence for the corresponding positive proposition (p). For instance, (1b) might be uttered in a situation where the speaker thought that Anna would be painting Michael rather than Maja but now sees...

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