Does narrow focus activate alternative referents?
Braun, B., Weber, A., & Crocker, M.
Does narrow focus activate alternative referents? In Proceedings of the 9th European Conference on Speech Communication and Technology
Narrow focus refers to accent placement that forces one interpretation
of a sentence, which is then often perceived contrastively.
Narrow focus is formalised in terms of alternative
sets, i.e. contextually or situationally salient alternatives. In
this paper, we investigate whether this model is valid also in
human utterance processing. We present an eye-tracking experiment
to study listeners’ expectations (i.e. eye-movements) with
respect to upcoming referents. Some of the objects contrast in
colour with objects that were previously referred to, others do
not; the objects are referred to with either a narrow focus on the
colour adjective or with broad focus on the noun. Results show
that narrow focus on the adjective increases early fixations to
contrastive referents. Narrow focus hence activates alternative
referents in human utterance processing