& Anne Wichmann
Sentence-initial I think (that)
and I believe (that): Prosodic evidence for use as main clause,
comment clause and discourse marker
Studies in Language 34(1): 36-74.
Sentence-initial pronoun-verb combinations such as I think, I believe
are ambiguous between main clause use on the one hand and
adverbial or discourse use on the other hand. We approach the topic
a prosodic perspective. Based on corpus data from spoken British
English the prosodic patterns of sentence-initial I think and I believe
are analysed and related to their interpretation in context. We show
that these expressions may function as main clause (MC), comment clause
(CC) or discourse marker (DM) and that the speaker's choice is
reflected in the prosody. The key feature is prosodic prominence: MCs
are reflected by accent placement on the pronoun, CCs by an accent on
the verb, while DMs are unstressed.