D. Robert Ladd, April 19
Gradience in linguistic and psycholinguistic perspective
D. Robert Ladd
School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
The University of Edinburgh
It has long been recognised that certain aspects of intonation involve gradience (e.g. increasing pitch range for emphasis), but applying the notion of gradience has always proved difficult. There are still many specific cases, such as the difference between H* and L+H* in ToBI transcriptions of English, that are analysed in some descriptions as involving two categories and in others as involving a single category that is gradiently variable. Neither experimental evidence (which I will outline in detail for one particular set of intonational distinctions) nor analogies to phonetic variability in segmental distinctions (which I have proposed elsewhere and which I will summarise here) have ever brought us closer to resolving such disagreements.
Gradience refers in the first instance to a special type of sound-meaning mapping in which continuous variation in the phonetic realisation of a given category directly signals continuous variation in some semantic variable. As such it appears to be a structural property, something to be investigated using conceptual tools from linguistics. But it is hard to distinguish gradience from other forms of variability, which are as much about processing as about structure. This means that psycholinguistic approaches to gradience should give us fresh new insights into some stale old problems.
- Where and when:
15:45-17:00 Apr 19, 2011MPI Nijmegen, Room 163