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Academic Paper

Title: The prosody of question tags in English
Author: Nicole Dehé
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Universität Konstanz
Author: Bettina Braun
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Institution: Universität Konstanz
Linguistic Field: Text/Corpus Linguistics
Abstract: The prosodic realization of English question tags (QTs) has received some interest in the literature; yet corpus studies on the factors affecting their phrasing and intonational realization are very rare or limited to a certain aspect. This article presents a quantitative corpus study of 370 QTs from the International Corpus of English that were annotated for prosodic phrasing and intonational realization of the QT and the host. Factors tested were polarity, position in the sentence and the turn as well as verb type. Generally, prosodic phrasing and intonational realization were highly correlated: separate QTs were mostly realized with a falling contour, while integrated QTs were mostly rising. Results from regression models showed a strong effect of polarity: QTs with an opposite polarity were more often phrased separately compared to QTs with constant polarity, but the phrasing of opposite polarity QTs was further dependent on whether the QT was negative or positive (more separate phrasing in negative QTs). Furthermore, prosodic separation was more frequent at the end of syntactic phrases and clauses compared to phrase-medial QTs. At the end of a turn, speakers realized more rising contours compared to QTs within a speaker's turn. Verb type also had an effect on the phrasing of the tag. Taken together, our results confirm some of the claims previously held for QTs, while others are modified and new findings are added.


This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 17, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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