Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

The Pragmatic Interpretation of Intonation in Greek Wh-questions

Arvaniti, Amalia, Baltazani, Mary, Gryllia, Stella (2014) The Pragmatic Interpretation of Intonation in Greek Wh-questions. In: Social and Linguistic Speech Prosody: Proceedings of the 7th international conference on Speech Prosody. Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Speech Prosody. 7. pp. 1144-1148. Speech Prosody Special Interest Group (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:44490)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided.


We experimentally investigated the pragmatics of two melodies commonly used with Greek wh-questions, L*H L-!H%, described as the default, and LH* L-L% considered less frequent and polite. We tested two hypotheses: (a) the !H%-ending melody is associated with information-seeking questions, while the L%-ending melody is pragmatically more flexible and thus appropriate also for non-information-seeking wh-questions expressing bias; (b) the !H%-ending melody, being more polite, is more appropriate for female talkers, all else being equal. In Experiment 1, comprehenders rated !H-ending and L%-ending versions of the same questions for politeness and appropriateness for the context in which they were heard (which favored either information-seeking or “biased” wh-questions). In Experiment 2, comprehenders heard the same questions and chose between two follow-up responses, one providing information, the other addressing the bias of the wh-question. Comprehenders rated !H%-ending questions more appropriate than L%-ending questions and judged the !H%-ending questions of female talkers more polite. They also chose information-providing answers more frequently after !H%- than L%-ending questions, but the preference was higher for female talkers and depended on comprehender gender. The results argue in favor of a compositional view of intonational meaning which depends not only on the tune but also on context, broadly construed.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: wh-questions, intonation, pragmatics, gender
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Amalia Arvaniti
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2014 17:34 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 10:57 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.