Comb or coat: The role of intonation in online reference resolution in a second language

Chen, A., & Lai, V. T. (2011). Comb or coat: The role of intonation in online reference resolution in a second language. In W. Zonneveld, & H. Quené (Eds.), Sound and Sounds. Studies presented to M.E.H. (Bert) Schouten on the occasion of his 65th birthday (pp. 57-68). Utrecht: UiL OTS.
1 Introduction In spoken sentence processing, listeners do not wait till the end of a sentence to decipher what message is conveyed. Rather, they make predictions on the most plausible interpretation at every possible point in the auditory signal on the basis of all kinds of linguistic information (e.g., Eberhard et al. 1995; Alman and Kamide 1999, 2007). Intonation is one such kind of linguistic information that is efficiently used in spoken sentence processing. The evidence comes primarily from recent work on online reference resolution conducted in the visual-world eyetracking paradigm (e.g., Tanenhaus et al. 1995). In this paradigm, listeners are shown a visual scene containing a number of objects and listen to one or two short sentences about the scene. They are asked to either inspect the visual scene while listening or to carry out the action depicted in the sentence(s) (e.g., 'Touch the blue square'). Listeners' eye movements directed to each object in the scene are monitored and time-locked to pre-defined time points in the auditory stimulus. Their predictions on the upcoming referent and sources for the predictions in the auditory signal are examined by analysing fixations to the relevant objects in the visual scene before the acoustic information on the referent is available
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