Intonation and Expectation: English Mirative Contours and Particles

  • Kelsey Kraus


This paper proposes a novel account of the English discourse particles oh and huh. First, these particles are analyzed as being inherently mirative, betraying a speaker’s (violated) expectations in a discourse. Second, these particles are systematically paired with idiomatic prosodic contours and contexts to observe how their pragmatic interpretation shifts. Mirativity in English, it turns out, is not limited to particular particles, but can also be a property of prosodic contours. Sag and Lieberman (1975)’s Surprise-Redundancy Contour, is one of them. I propose that understanding the contribution of discourse particle requires intricate pragmatic reasoning strategies which enriches basic meaning of a discourse particle with the pragmatic discourse effects contributed by prosodic variation.
How to Cite
Kraus, K. (2019). Intonation and Expectation: English Mirative Contours and Particles. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 23(2), 19-36.