Zohreh Shiamizadeh, Johanneke Caspers, Niels O. Schiller
August 24, 2017
Article number: 20160085
It has been reported that prosody contributes to the identification of utterances which lack lexico-syntactic indicators of interrogativity but do have characteristic prosodic correlates (e.g. Vion and Colas 2006. Pitch cues for the recognition of yes-no questions in French. Journal of Psycholinguistics Research 35. 427–445). In Persian wh-in-situ questions, the interrogativity device (the wh-phrase) does not move to the sentence-initial position, and the pre-wh part is characterized by specific prosodic correlates (Shiamizadeh et al. 2016. Do Persian native speakers prosodically mark wh-in-situ questions? Manuscript submitted for publication). The current experiment investigates the role of prosody in the perception of Persian wh-in-situ questions as opposed to declaratives. To this end, an experiment was designed in which Persian native speakers were asked to choose the correct sentence type after hearing only the pre-wh part of a sentence. We hypothesized that prosody guides perception of wh-in-situ questions independent of wh-phrase type. The results of the experiment corroborate our hypothesis. The outcome is discussed in terms of Ohala´s frequency code, and Bolinger´s claim about the universal dichotomous association between relaxation and declarativity on the one hand and tension and interrogativity on the other hand.