Intonation of 'now' in resolving scope ambiguity in English and Dutch
Braun, B., & Chen, A.
Intonation of 'now' in resolving scope ambiguity in English and Dutch. Journal of Phonetics, 38
, 431-444. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2010.04.002.
The adverb now in English (nu in Dutch) can draw listeners’ attention to an upcoming contrast (e.g., ‘Put X in Y. Now put X in Z’). In Dutch, but not English, the position of this sequential adverb may disambiguate which constituent is contrasted. We investigated whether and how the intonational realization of now/nu is varied to signal different scopes and whether it interacts with word order. Three contrast conditions (contrast in object, location, or both) were produced by eight Dutch and eight English speakers. Results showed no consistent use of word order for scope disambiguation in Dutch. Importantly, independent of language, an unaccented now/nu signaled a contrasting object while an accented now/nu signaled a contrast in the location. Since these intonational patterns were independent of word order, we interpreted the results in the framework of grammatical saliency: now/nu appears to be unmarked when the contrast lies in a salient constituent (the object) but marked with a prominent rise when a less salient constituent is contrasted (the location).