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On the Offensive

By Karen Stollznow

On the Offensive " This book sheds light on the derogatory phrases, insults, slurs, stereotypes, tropes and more that make up linguistic discrimination. Each chapter addresses a different area of prejudice: race and ethnicity; gender identity; sexuality; religion; health and disability; physical appearance; and age."



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Dissertation Information


Title: Talking It Up: The role of temporal context and listeners' expectations in the interpretation of uptalk Add Dissertation
Author: John Tomlinson Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://people.ucsc.edu/~otomlins/
Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz, Psychology Department
Completed in: 2009
Linguistic Subfield(s): Phonology; Pragmatics; Psycholinguistics;
Director(s): Raymond Gibbs
Alan Kawamoto
Jean Fox Tree

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.