Lucy Zhao, Nicole Dehé & Victoria A. Murphy, 2018
From pitch to purpose: The prosodic-pragmatic mapping of [I + verb] belief constructions in English and Mandarin.
Journal of Pragmatics 123: 55-57 

Prosody has often been considered a universal cue of prominence across languages. This paper presents the results of a study that aimed to provide congruent data on the question of universality vs. cross-linguistic variability of pragmatic-prosodic mappings (prosodic variation as a cue to pragmatic interpretation) in a specific linguistic construction, namely, [I + verb] belief constructs before an opinion. Specifically, this study presents a perception test implemented to investigate the phenonemon of cross-linguistic pragmatic-prosodic mapping in [I + verb] belief constructs. Since opinions carry inherent notions of speaker belief, these constructions may initially appear superfluous. However, [I + verb] forms may actually fulfill various pragmatic functions depending on prosodic variation. Usage of various pragmatic functions of this construct was analyzed and compared between native Mandarin and English speakers using the most common belief verb, “think” (‘juede’ in Mandarin). Results illustrated that confidence rating of prosodic-syntactic [I + verb] variations were linked to pragmatic implicatures generated via alternative semantics theory. Furthermore, the same confidence rating trends appeared across both Mandarin and English, exhibiting a similar pragmatic-prosodic mapping for [I + verb] across these typologically different languages. This study thereby provides validity of prosody as a cross-linguistic pragmatic tool to express speaker attitude.

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