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Searching high and low: prosodic breaks disambiguate relative clauses

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dc.contributor.author Fromont, Lauren A.
dc.contributor.author Soto-Faraco, Salvador, 1970-
dc.contributor.author Biau, Emmanuel, 1985-
dc.date.accessioned 2018-02-07T15:18:28Z
dc.date.available 2018-02-07T15:18:28Z
dc.date.issued 2017
dc.identifier.citation Fromont LA, Soto-Faraco S, Biau E. Searching high and low: prosodic breaks disambiguate relative clauses. Front psychol. 2017;8:96. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00096
dc.identifier.issn 1664-1078
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10230/33825
dc.description.abstract During natural speech perception, listeners rely on a wide range of cues to support comprehension, from semantic context to prosodic information. There is a general consensus that prosody plays a role in syntactic parsing, but most studies focusing on ambiguous relative clauses (RC) show that prosodic cues, alone, are insufficient to reverse the preferred interpretation of sentence. These findings suggest that universally preferred structures (e.g., Late Closure principle) matter far more than prosodic cues in such cases. This study explores an alternative hypothesis: that the weak effect of prosody might be due to the influence of various syntactic, lexical-semantic, and acoustic confounding factors, and investigate the consequences of prosodic breaks while controlling these variables. We used Spanish RC sentences in three experimental conditions where the presence and position (following the first or second noun phrase) of prosodic breaks was manipulated. The results showed that the placement of a prosodic break determined sentence interpretation by changing the preferred attachment of the RC. Listeners' natural preference for low attachment (in the absence of break) was reinforced when a prosodic break was placed after the first noun. In contrast, a prosodic break placed after the second noun reversed the preferred interpretation of the sentence, toward high attachment. We argue that, in addition to other factors, listeners indeed use prosodic breaks as robust cues to syntactic parsing during speech processing, as these cues may direct listeners toward one interpretation or another.
dc.description.sponsorship This research was supported by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (PSI2016-75558-P), AGAUR Generalitat de Catalunya (2014SGR856), and the European Research Council (StG-2010 263145). EB was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 707727.
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso eng
dc.publisher Frontiers
dc.relation.ispartof Front psychol. 2017;8:96
dc.rights © 2017 Fromont, Soto-Faraco and Biau. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
dc.rights.uri https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
dc.title Searching high and low: prosodic breaks disambiguate relative clauses
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/article
dc.identifier.doi http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00096
dc.subject.keyword Spanish
dc.subject.keyword Prosody
dc.subject.keyword Relative clause attachment
dc.subject.keyword Syntactic ambiguity
dc.subject.keyword Syntactic parsing
dc.relation.projectID info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/ES/1PE/PSI2016-75558-P
dc.rights.accessRights info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess
dc.type.version info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion

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