Prosody and gesture in the interpretation of yes-answers to negative yes/no-questions

Susagna Tubau, Santiago González-Fuente, Pilar Prieto, Maria Teresa Espinal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2015, De Gruyter Mouton. All rights reserved. In this paper we investigate the role of prosody and gesture in the interpretation of yes-answers to negative yes/no-questions in Catalan, a language with a polarity-based system of confirmation/contradiction of negative yes/no-questions. Two rating experiments were conducted to test (i) whether yes-answers to negative yes/no-questions are perceived as ambiguous by Catalan speakers when prosody and gesture are not available (Experiment 1), and (ii) whether the interpretation of sí 'yes' as an answer to a negative yes/no-question is dependent on prosodic and gestural properties of the answer (Experiment 2). Our results show that yes always asserts a salient propositional discourse referent, which can be either p or ¬p. Intonation and gesture guide the interpretation of yes-answers to negative yes/no-questions in Catalan, and we show that a yes-answer with a marked intonation and gesture is to be interpreted as a denial or REJECT of a salient propositional discourse referent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-142
JournalLinguistic Review
Volume32
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

Keywords

  • Ambiguity
  • Gesture
  • Negative yes/no-questions
  • Prosody
  • Yes-answers

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