ASA 130th Meeting - St. Louis, MO - 1995 Nov 27 .. Dec 01

2aSC29. On the acoustics of broad and narrow focus.

Steven R. Hoskins

Univ. of Delaware, Newark, DE 19711

Linguistic analyses of focus [Halliday (1967), Chomsky (1971), Ladd (1980), Selkirk (1984), Gussenhoven (1984)] state that under certain conditions, foci of different scope have identical prosodic realizations. These claims have not yet been supported by empirical data. Eady et al. [Lang. Speech 29(3), 233--251 (1986)] found durational differences between broad and narrow focus within the verb phrase (VP). However, these experiments did not control for syntactic structure: According to Selkirk (1984), only verb-argument VPs have identical broad/narrow focus realization; verb-adjunct VPs do not. This study directly investigates the interaction of focus with verbal arguments and adjuncts. An experiment was conducted where matched sentences with verb-argument and verb-adjunct structures were read under three focus conditions: broad (on VP), narrow (on verb), narrow (on postverbal argument/adjunct). Both speech and electroglottographic data were gathered. Durations, absolute pitch, and change in pitch on the stressed syllable of the verb were analyzed. Preliminary results (three subjects) support Selkirk (1984): In the verb-adjunct structures, focus on the VP and narrow (postverbal) focus are significantly different for duration and pitch change; verb-argument structures, however, are not significantly different for these conditions.