Prosodic effects in the production of structural ambiguities: Do they exist?

Maria Martzoukou, Despina Papadopoulou


The aim of the present study is to explore whether Greek adults, who are non-trained speakers and naïve to the purpose of the task, use distinguishable prosodic cues, while producing ambiguous sentences. We report on the findings from a production task conducted with 30 participants (15 females), which contained subject/object ambiguities. Results revealed that participants use prosodic cues to denote the subject or the object reading, but not consistently so in order to distinguish the two meanings. We argue that our findings are in line with the Syntax-Phonology mapping, according to which prosodic phrasing goes in tandem with syntactic segmentation, though prosodic phrasing was not consistently employed by our speakers to differentiate the two meanings of the ambiguous sentences.


language production, structural ambiguity, prosody

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