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LINGUIST List 20.1820

Mon May 11 2009

Diss: Phonology/Pragmatics/Psycholing: Tomlinson: 'Talking It Up...'

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        1.    John Tomlinson, Talking It Up: The role of temporal context and listeners' expectations in the interpretation of uptalk

Message 1: Talking It Up: The role of temporal context and listeners' expectations in the interpretation of uptalk
Date: 11-May-2009
From: John Tomlinson <otomlinsucsc.edu>
Subject: Talking It Up: The role of temporal context and listeners' expectations in the interpretation of uptalk
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Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Program: Psychology Department
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: John M Tomlinson

Dissertation Title: Talking It Up: The role of temporal context and listeners' expectations in the interpretation of uptalk

Linguistic Field(s): Phonology
                            Pragmatics
                            Psycholinguistics

Dissertation Director:
Raymond W Gibbs
Jean E Fox Tree
Alan H Kawamoto

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation deals with how listeners interpret meaning from uptalk,
defined here as rising pitch found on declarative utterances. Rising pitch
has been considered a hallmark of interrogative statements in English.
However, phrase final rising pitch on declarative utterances, i.e. uptalk,
has been hypothesized to signal both (1) a lack of confidence or commitment
in the utterance just produced, a backward-looking function (Ohala, 1984;
Smith & Clark, 1993; Gunlogson, 2001), or (2) the current utterance should
be interpreted with respect to the subsequent utterance, a forward-looking
function (Pierrehumbert & Hirschberg, 1990). The central hypothesis tested
here is whether prolongations interact with uptalk to yield different
interpretations.

In Experiment 1, listeners rated speaker knowledgeableness on a scale of 1
(not accurate) to 7 (accurate). Non-prolonged utterances were rated as more
accurate than prolonged utterances. Ratings were not affected by uptalk and
the factors did not interact. In Experiment 2, listeners monitored for a
word in the second utterance of the pair. There was an interaction between
uptalk and prolongation. Words preceded by prolonged uptalk were monitored
faster than words preceded by non-prolonged uptalk. In Experiment 3,
listeners monitored for upcoming words as in Experiment 2, however were
told that the speakers were either experts or non-experts in their domains.
The interaction found in Experiment 2 was replicated for non-experts,
however was dampened for experts.

These data support the need to incorporate both temporal and situational
factors into theories of intonational meaning. The dissertation concludes
by discussing how listeners rely highly on mental state inferences to
establish the meaning of intonational events. A preliminary model of
situated intonational meaning is discussed in the final chapter.



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