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May I Quote You on That?

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Academic Paper

Title: Intonation influences how children and adults interpret sarcasm
Author: Melanie Glenwright
Institution: University of Manitoba
Author: Jayanthi M. Parackel
Institution: University of Calgary
Author: Kristene R. J. Cheung
Institution: University of Manitoba
Author: Elizabeth S. Nilsen
Institution: University of Waterloo
Linguistic Field: Phonetics; Pragmatics
Abstract: Adults distinguish sarcasm from literal language according to intonation involving a reduction in fundamental frequency (F0). We examined whether children's and adults' interpretation of a sarcastic speaker's belief, attitude, and humor was affected by degree of F0 reduction by presenting five- to six-year-olds and adults with sarcastic and literal criticisms with a small, medium, or large mean F0 reduction. Children and adults were more accurate in attributing the speaker's belief and intent for sarcastic criticisms for large F0 reductions compared to small reductions. These results show that F0 reduction is a helpful cue to sarcasm interpretation for both children and adults.


This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 41, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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