Colloquium: Prosody, Production, and Parsing

November 13, 3:30-5pm, Cobb 201
Duane Watson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Traditionally, linguists have formalized intonational phrase boundary placement using notions of linguistic competence (e.g. Truckenbrodt, 1999; Selkirk, 1984). In this talk, I will present evidence that linguistic performance may play an important role in intonational boundary placement in English. In the first half of the talk, I will present data from several production experiments that suggest that intonational phrase boundaries provide speakers with time to plan speech and time to recover. Three pieces of evidence suggests this: 1) The likelihood of a boundary at a constituent boundary is proportional to the constituent's size; 2) the likelihood of a boundary occurring at a given point in a sentence depends on whether another boundary has occurred recently; and 3) intonational boundaries rarely separate words that are likely to have been planned together. In the second half of the talk, I will argue that listeners are sensitive to the distribution of intonational boundaries in production, and interpret intonational boundaries as a signal to not attach incoming words to the lexical item that precedes the boundary. Data showing early processing effects of boundaries will be presented from an eye-tracking experiment using the visual world paradigm.