Paper: The Effect Of Pitch Accenting On Pronoun Referent Resolution

ACL ID P95-1040
Title The Effect Of Pitch Accenting On Pronoun Referent Resolution
Venue Annual Meeting of the Association of Computational Linguistics
Session Main Conference
Year 1995
Authors
  • Janet Cahn (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge MA)

By strictest interpretation, theories of both centering and intonational meaning fail to predict the existence of pitch accented pronominals. Yet they occur felicitously in spoken discourse. To explain this, I emphasize the dual functions served by pitch accents, as markers of both propo- sitional (semantic/pragmatic) and atten- tional salience. This distinction underlies my proposals about the attentional conse- quences of pitch accents when applied to pronominals, in particular, that while most pitch accents may weaken or reinforce a cospecifier's status as the center of atten- tion, a contrastively stressed pronominal may force a shift, even when contraindi- cated by textual features.