Recent work in the literature on prosody presents a puzzle: Some aspects of prosody can be primed in production (e.g., speech rate), but others cannot (e.g., intonational phrase boundaries, or IPBs). In three experiments we aimed to replicate these effects and identify the source of this dissociation. In Experiment 1 we investigated how speaking rate and the presence of an intonational boundary in a prime sentence presented auditorily affect the production of these aspects of prosody in a target sentence presented visually. Analyses of the targets revealed that participants’ speaking rates, but not their production of boundaries, were affected by the priming manipulation. Experiment 2 verified whether speakers are more sensitive to IPBs when the boundaries provide disambiguating information, and in this different context replicated Experiment 1 in showing no IPB priming. Experiment 3 tested whether speakers are sensitive to another aspect of prosody—pitch accenting—in a similar paradigm. Again, we found no evidence that this manipulation affected pitch accenting in target sentences. These findings are consistent with earlier research and suggest that aspects of prosody that are paralinguistic (like speaking rate) may be more amenable to priming than are linguistic aspects of prosody (such as phrase boundaries and pitch accenting).
Bibliographical noteWe thank Candice Stanfield, Ashley Frost, and Ashley Devereux for their assistance with data collection and coding. This work was supported in part by National Institutes of Health Grant R01 DC008774 and by the James S. McDonnell Foundation.
- Intonational phrase boundary
- Speaking rate
- Pitch accenting