5aSC3. Effects and limitations of prosody on the resolution of syntactic ambiguity in Japanese.

Session: Friday Morning, December 6


Author: Yasuko Misono
Location: Tokyo Univ. of Agriculture and Technol., 3-8-1 Harumi-cho Fuchu-shi, Tokyo, 183 Japan
Author: Reiko Mazuka
Location: Duke Univ., Durham, NC 27708-0085
Author: Tadahisa Kondo
Location: NTT Basic Res. Labs., 3-1 Morinosato Wakamiya Atsugi-shi, 243-01 Japan
Author: Shigeru Kiritani
Location: Faculty of Medicine, Univ. of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113 Japan


The role of prosodic cues in interpreting syntactically ambiguous Japanese sentences was examined with special reference to the interaction with semantic and pragmatic biases. Syntactically ambiguous sentences with varying degrees of semantic and pragmatic bias were constructed. The degree of bias in each sentence was evaluated through visual presentation experiments. At the same time, auditory presentation experiments were conducted using speech samples recorded with prosody maximally favoring each of the possible interpretations of the sentences. The results showed that the prosodic cues could influence the interpretation of a sentence even when the sentence was semantically strongly biased, refuting the view where the prosodic cues play a role only when another source of information such as semantics and pragmatics failed to specify the interpretaiton of the sentence. The results of the present study also showed the limitation of the prosodic cues in that the prosodic biases alone were not sufficient to fully determine the interpretation of the sentences even when the sentence biases were neutral.

ASA 132nd meeting - Hawaii, December 1996