A pitch accent beyond contrastive Focus marking: experimental evidence from auditory rating


  • Alexander Göbel
  • Michael Wagner




This paper presents two auditory rating experiments investigating the meaning contribution of the L*H pitch accent. Adapting previous work, we hypothesize the L*H to contribute an evaluative scale. The first experiment tests this hypothesis by drawing a connection to the ambiguity of epistemic and concessive 'at least', based on the intuition that the concessive interpretation correlates with a L*H accent. The data corroborate this intuition by showing that an L*H accent receives lower ratings than an H* accent in contexts that are more compatible with an epistemic interpretation of 'at least'. The second experiment extends this pattern to the contribution of the L*H accent in the same contexts but without 'at least', with the L*H accent receiving higher ratings than the H* accent in concessive contexts. The results thus provide evidence for an independent contribution of the L*H accent, which resembles that of concessive 'at least'. We consider two analyses. One situates the effect at the level of focus, and distinguishes two squiggle operators: one without a scale presupposition with H* accents on the Foci it associates with, and one with a scale presupposition with L*H accents on the Foci it associates with. The second analysis situates the scale presupposition at the level of the utterance contour, in an operator that always takes utterance-wide scope. The two analyses make different locality predictions, which remain to be tested.




How to Cite

Göbel, A., & Wagner, M. (2023). A pitch accent beyond contrastive Focus marking: experimental evidence from auditory rating. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 27, 240–252. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2023.v27.1068