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      The role of intonation and visual cues in the perception of sentence types: Evidence from European Portuguese varieties

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          In this paper, we explore the role of intonation and visual cues in the perception of statements and questions in two varieties of European Portuguese—the standard (SEP) and the insular variety of Azores, Ponta Delgada (PtD)—previously shown to convey sentence type contrasts by different uses of intonational means and/or facial gestures, namely eyebrow movements. Forty native speakers (20 from each variety) were exposed to SEP and PtD stimuli in a perception task with three conditions (audio only, video only, and audiovisual). The audiovisual condition includes congruent and incongruent (both original and manipulated) stimuli, where there is either a match or a mismatch between the auditory and visual features as potential cues for a specific sentence type. We concluded that both SEP and PtD participants rely more on intonation than on eyebrow movement to identify sentence types, even when exposed to incongruent audiovisual stimuli. In the absence of audio information, unexpectedly, participants do not interpret eyebrow raising as a question marker, not even when perceiving stimuli from their native variety. When exposed to non-native audiovisual stimuli, both SEP and PtD participants present longer reaction times (RTs), especially for incongruent stimuli. Finally, although we confirm the strength of intonation over visual cues, RTs in the audiovisual condition are significantly shorter than in the audio condition, thus pointing to the relevance of visual cues for structural/linguistic marking.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Reaction time as an indicator of discrete intonational contrasts in English

           A. Chen (2003)
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            Reaction time and decision difficulty in the perception of intonation

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              Using the Hands to Identify Who Does What to Whom: Gesture and Speech Go Hand-in-Hand.

              In order to produce a coherent narrative, speakers must identify the characters in the tale so that listeners can figure out who is doing what to whom. This paper explores whether speakers use gesture, as well as speech, for this purpose. English speakers were shown vignettes of two stories and asked to retell the stories to an experimenter. Their speech and gestures were transcribed and coded for referent identification. A gesture was considered to identify a referent if it was produced in the same location as the previous gesture for that referent. We found that speakers frequently used gesture location to identify referents. Interestingly, however, they used gesture most often to identify referents that were also uniquely specified in speech. Lexical specificity in referential expressions in speech thus appears to go hand-in-hand with specification in referential expressions in gesture.

                Author and article information

                Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology
                Ubiquity Press
                11 September 2017
                : 8
                : 1
                Center of Linguistics, University of Lisbon, PT
                Tilburg University, NL
                Copyright: © 2017 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See

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