What is it about?

Many languages mark the difference between a statement and a question with the help of word order. Think about cases such as “Maria bought apples and pears.” vs. “What did Maria buy?” Some languages, however, do not make use of word order variation to indicate the difference between statements and questions. These languages, so-called wh-in-situ languages, construct questions by using statement word order, e.g. “Maria bought what?” or “Maria did what buy?”. For listeners, the difference between a statement and a question is important for understanding the message. Listeners must make this difference on the basis of prosodic cues (incl. pitch, duration, intensity, rhythm, stress, etc.) to disambiguate statements from questions. Therefore, the question investigated here is whether and at which point in time language users of a wh-in-situ language, such as Persian, mark the message they are producing as a statement or a question.

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Why is it important?

This research is important because it demonstrates how speakers mark in subtle ways information about the clause type (statement vs. question) to be used by their interlocutors.

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This page is a summary of: Do Persian Native Speakers Prosodically Mark Wh-in-situ Questions?, Language and Speech, February 2018, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0023830917753237.
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