Talking it up: How the function of rising declaratives depends on prolongations and listeners' expectations


Listeners’ comprehension of phrase final rising pitch on declarative utterances, or uptalk, was examined to test the hypothesis that prolongations might differentiate conflicting functions of rising pitch. In Experiment 1 we found that listeners rated prolongations as indicating more speaker uncertainty, but that rising pitch was unrelated to ratings. In Experiment 2 we found that prolongations interacted with rising pitch when listeners monitored for words in the subsequent utterance. Words preceded by prolonged uptalk were monitored faster than words preceded by non-prolonged uptalk. In Experiment 3 we found that the interaction between rising pitch and prolongations depended on listeners’ beliefs about speakers’ mental states. These results demonstrate that form/function mappings may need to take temporal information into account. They also demonstrate that form/function mappings are not predetermined, but can vary depending on listener expectations.

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