Jason Shaw publishes in NLLT

photo of Jason Shaw
February 19, 2021

Jason Shaw co-authored a paper with Shigeto Kawahara and Shinichiro Ishihara which appeared in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory (NLLT). The paper, entitled “Assessing the prosodic licensing of wh-in-situ in Japanese: A computational-experimental approach”, generalized computational tools developed in Shaw and Kawahara’s recent work on speech kinematics to the domain of prosody, investigating the nature of prosodic licensing of wh-words in Japanese. Japanese is a language that, instead of requiring wh-movement in questions, allows wh-words to stay in situ, a pattern hypothesized to be licensed by the prosodic grouping of the wh-word and a complementizer. The application of the computational approach to F0 trajectories revealed on a token-by-token basis whether lexical pitch accent patterns are retained in words intervening between a wh-word and its complementizer. Results indicate that, consistent with the prosodic licensing hypothesis, all speakers showed some evidence of surface pitch accent deletion in the environment following wh-words. However, the pattern was variable; all speakers also produced forms in which lexical pitch accents surface following wh-words, a finding which challenges one version of the prosodic licensing hypothesis. We conclude that if the prosodic licensing hypothesis is correct, it must be abstract phonological structure, with variable phonetic manifestation, that conditions wh in situ.

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