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Title:Some Problematic Issues in the Study of Intonation and Sentence Stress
Author(s):Olsen, Margaret S.
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Abstract:The two issues examined are: the assumption that there exists an intonation pattern that can be characterized as "normal" or "neutral"; and the issue of whether intonation can have any effect on the form taken by the syntactic structure of the utterance to which it is assigned.
In regard to the first issue, neutral and normal intonation are shown to be two distinctly different types of intonation patterns according to their functions. Neutral intonation is defined as the intonation pattern that expresses no meaning, and normal intonation is defined as the intonation that is "normally" or "regularly" applied to an utterance, without reference to sentence structure or speaker intentions. It is then shown that neutral intonation cannot exist because stress, an integral part of intonation, is always assigned in a meaningful manner and so intonation must always be meaningful, too. Normal intonation is shown to exist, but it can only be defined in such an inexact way as to render it useless as an empirical standard. In demonstrating this, it becomes clear that neutral/normal intonational form and neutral/normal function are not necessarily found in the same intonation pattern, as has been assumed by others.
In regard to the second issue, it is shown that intonation does indeed have the capacity to influence the shape of the syntactic structure chosen by the speaker in forming an utterance. The primary motivations behind such influence are style and ease of articulation. Speakers will frequently opt to employ a noncanonical syntactic structure if by using such a structure a more easily articulated or stylistically preferable intonation pattern can also be used.
This dissertation also gives detailed reports of two studies which support the above claims. One of these studies shows that the intonation pattern identified as the "normal" pattern is actually very commonly used and is assigned to utterances of all types and all lengths with significant consistency, thus giving support to the contention that this can indeed be called the "normal" pattern. The second study gives evidence that the judgments as to the semantic equivalency of different types of utterances can be strongly affected by stress placement.
Issue Date:1986
Description:216 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8623382
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1986

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