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Auteur: Thorstein FRETHEIM

Co-Auteur(s): Wim A. van Dommelen

Intonation as a guide to a parenthetical vs. a non-parenthetical interpretation of a Norwegian cognitive verb

Abstract/Résumé: Urmson (Parenthetical verbs, Mind LXI, 1952) called "suppose" parenthetical not only in "Your house is very old, I suppose" but also in "I suppose that your house is very old", where it retains its transitive verb properties. We wished to sort out what Norwegian intonation patterns support an interpretation of a sentence like (1) as a reminder of the truth of the complement proposition (parenthetical main clause) and what patterns support an interpretation of (1) as a request for confirmation of the proposition of the complex sentence (truth-conditional main clause). (1) Du vet at det er forbudt å parkere her./? (you know that it is forbidden to park here) We carried out a comprehension test with Norwegian speakers. Another five sentences were added, of which (2), (3), (5) and (6) display a difference in the embedded clause between the subordinate clause order "ikke er" supporting a truth-conditional main clause and the main clause order "er ikke" supporting a parenthetical main clause. In (1) and (4) intonational contrasts were the only indicators: (2) Du vet at det ikke er lov å parkere her./? (you know that it not is law to park here) (3) Du vet at det er ikke lov å parkere her./? ( not law ..) (4) Vet du at det er forbudt å parkere her./? (know you that it is forbidden to park here) (5) Vet du at det ikke er lov å parkere her./? (..not is law ..) (6) Vet du at det er ikke lov å parkere her./? ( not law) For each stimulus presented to informants through loudspeakers, they were told to choose between a parenthetical and a truth-conditional interpretation indicated by means of written cues in the upper vs lower part of a computer screen. The prosodic parameters that we focus on are (a) degrees of prosodic prominence of the main clause verb "vet" (know), (b) the contrast between a High and Low final tone, (c) the presence vs absence of intonational main clause phenomena in the lower clause. We now know what prosodic gestures within each category (a), (b), (c) interact fruitfully with prosodic gestures within the other two categories and what co-occurring gestures rule one another out, resulting in a lack of consensus among the informants because they are offered mutually incompatible information about the intended pragmatic processing of the stimulus. We also found that with some stimuli the intonation actually overruled the effect of the word order contrast in the lower clause. If "vite" (to know) is a separate lexical item when the verb and its subject are extraposed or inserted parenthetically, it is also the parenthetical verb that appears in the stimuli that caused an unequivocal response from our group of informants.