Palgrave Studies in Pragmatics, Language and Cognition
Speech communication can be disturbed. However, humans can understand utterances even if they do not recognise all the words. They just have to recognise the words that are critical for proper interpretation. Accentuated words are more likely to be recognised than non-accentuated words. A speaker who wants to be understood therefore should accentuate the interpretation-critical words when conversing. In Accentuation and Interpretation a theory of accentuation is developed according to which accentuation serves the mere pragmatic function of making utterances well comprehensible. Semantic effects of accentuation are explained as epiphenomena of pragmatic accentuation. The theory is formally elaborated in a model-theoretic framework and experimentally justified.