Third International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP 94)

Yokohama, Japan
September 18-22, 1994

Prosodic Information and Processing of Temporarily Ambiguous Constructions in Japanese

Jennifer J. Venditti (1), Hiroko Yamashita (2)

(1) Department of Linguistics, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
(2) Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

This study examines the contribution of acoustic information to distinguishing 'temporarily ambiguous structures in Japanese. In the written language, since there is no morphological marking on relative clauses, there is a consistent ambiguity (until the head noun is presented) as to whether a clause is a simplex sentence or a subordinate clause of a complex NP. Experiment 1 shows that, in the spoken language, there are differences in fundamental frequency, duration and amplitude in native speakers productions which distinguish these two constructions. Furthermore, experiments 2 and 3 show that this information is indeed used by listeners in identifying the structure of the utterance prior to the point of disambiguation (i.e., presentation of the head noun), and even prior to the completion of the verb in the relative clause.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Venditti, Jennifer J. / Yamashita, Hiroko (1994): "Prosodic information and processing of temporarily ambiguous constructions in Japanese", In ICSLP-1994, 1147-1150.