Lingua (2011)

David Beaver
University of Texas at Austin
Many formal linguists hold that English pitch accent has a single function: marking focus. On the other hand, there is evidence from corpus work and from psycholinguistics that pitch accent is attracted to expressions which are unpredictable. We present a two-factor pragmatic account in which both focus and predictability contribute to the placement of accent in an English intonational phrase. On examples of so-called “second occurrence focus” and related phenomena, our account gives superior results to the one-factor accounts of Rooth and B¨ uring and to Selkirk’s rival two-factor account.
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