Is there a universal answering strategy for rejecting negative propositions? Typological evidence on the use of prosody and gesture

Santiago González-Fuente, Susagna Tubau, M. Teresa Espinal, Pilar Prieto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2015 González-Fuente, Tubau, Espinal and Prieto. Previous research has proposed that languages diverge with respect to how their speakers confirm and contradict negative questions. Taking into account the classification between truth-based and polarity-based languages, this paper is mainly concerned with the expression of REJECT (a semantic operation that signals a contradiction move with respect to the common ground, along Krifka's lines) in two languages belonging to two typologically distinct answering systems, namely Catalan (polarity-based) and Russian (a mixed system using polarity-based, truth-based, and echoic strategies). This investigation has two goals. First, to assess empirically the relevance of prosodic and gestural patterns in the interpretation of confirming and rejecting responses to negative polar questions. Second, to test the claim that in fact speakers resort to strikingly similar universal strategies at the time of expressing rejecting answers to discourse accessible negative assertions and negative polar questions, namely the use of linguistic units that encode REJECT in combination with ASSERT. The results of our investigation support the existence of a universal answering system for rejecting negative polar questions that integrates lexical and syntactic strategies with prosodic and gestural patterns, and instantiate the REJECT and ASSERT operators. We will also discuss the implications these results have for the truth-based vs. polarity-based taxonomy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number899
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2015

Keywords

  • Gesture
  • Polarity-based answering systems
  • Prosody
  • REJECT
  • Truth-based answering systems

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