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The Intonation of Information-Seeking and Rhetorical Questions in Icelandic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 February 2020

Nicole Dehé*
University of Konstanz
Bettina Braun*
University of Konstanz
Fachbereich Linguistik, Fach 186, Universität Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany [] []
Fachbereich Linguistik, Fach 186, Universität Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany [] []


We investigate the intonation of information-seeking and rhetorical questions in Icelandic. The results for the information-seeking questions largely confirm observations in previous literature based mostly on introspective data: Polar questions are mostly realized with late rise nuclear accents where the peak aligns after a stressed syllable (L*+H), wh-questions with peak accents (H*); wh-questions often start high (%H, H*). Illocution types (that is, information-seeking versus rhetorical questions) differ in nuclear pitch accent types and in the type and frequency of prenuclear accents. The default boundary tone is low (L%) across question types and illocution types. The results are discussed against the background of previous findings with respect to the relationship between question and illocution type, and prosody.*

© Society for Germanic Linguistics 2020 

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We thank Sigríður Sæunn Sigurðárdóttir for careful translations of the materials, Sigríður Sæunn Sigurðárdóttir and Christiane Ulbrich for carrying out the experiment in Iceland, Jörgen Pind and Árni Kristjánsson for giving us access to the sound attenuated room at the University of Iceland, Tolli Eypórsson for providing equipment, and Margrét Pálsdóttir and Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir for help with finding participants. We are grateful to Daniela Wochner for discussion.


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