Prosody Disambiguates String-Identical Connected Clauses and Relative Clauses

Buhan Guo, Nino Grillo, Sven Mattys, Andrea Santi, Shayne Sloggett, Giuseppina Turco

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


We investigated whether prosody disambiguates Clefts containing string
identical Connected Clauses (CC, 1) and Relative Clauses (RC, 2) in English. RCs
in (2) are nested within the element they modify and in focus. CCs (1) carry
given information and attach higher in the structure. -Who was laughing? -It
was [the editor] [CC that was laughing] -Who called? -It was [the editor [RC
that was laughing]] ([CC that called]) Exp1: A Planned Production (N=8) study
revealed clear tonal and durational differences at multiple regions. Exp2: To
test whether these prosodic cues disambiguate the two readings, 64
participants judged the acceptability of auditorily presented sentences in
response to preceding contexts and questions which elicited either a CC or RC
reading. The prosody of the target sentences either matched or mismatched
the context, leading to a 2(Context: CC vs. RC)*2(Prosody: Match vs.
Mismatch) design. Matched prosody was accepted more often (85%) than
mismatched prosody (59%; p<.01), indicating listeners’ sensitivity to the
prosodic differences between the two structures. This effect was smaller for
CC structures than for RC ones (p<.01), which suggests that prosodic
disambiguation is more important for nested RCs than for non-nested CC
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2023
EventArchitectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing 28 - BCBL - Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, San Sebastián/Donostia, Spain
Duration: 31 Aug 20232 Apr 2024


ConferenceArchitectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing 28
Abbreviated titleAMLaP23
CitySan Sebastián/Donostia
Internet address


  • Psycholinguistics
  • Language Processing
  • Prosody

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