Intonational Contours of Nicaraguan Granadino Spanish in Absolute Questions and Their Relationship with Pragmatic Meaning
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This paper details the intonation of Spanish absolute interrogatives in the highly understudied region of Pacific Nicaragua, exploring the interface between pragmatic meaning and nuclear configurations in Granada. Based on a Discourse Completion Test completed by nine Granadinos, this analysis observes the intonation associated with declaratives, unbiased yes-no questions, inner negation questions, outer negation questions, incredulous questions, surprise questions, and tag questions. Two main nuclear configurations are at play in Granadino Spanish: a L+H* L% nuclear configuration that is associated with declarative and declarative-like sentence types (including tag questions and incredulous questions), which encodes speaker belief in and assertion of a particular proposition, and a H+L* L% nuclear configuration used in interrogatives to question or confirm a proposition involving a lesser degree of speaker belief. It is argued that the strength of a speaker's belief in a proposition can be signaled to an interlocutor through the use of the question nuclear configuration (H+L* L%) or the declarative nuclear configuration (L+H* L%). Where different nuclear configurations do not help distinguish between sentence types, the author contends that continuous variables help to tease apart the differences in meaning, with expanded or compressed pitch ranges, downstepping, peak displacement, and syllable duration distinguishing between the very similar inner and outer negation questions, on the one hand, and surprise and incredulous questions, on the other. Finally, the study situates Granadino Spanish absolute interrogative intonation in the Spanish-speaking world, proposing some apparent parallels with Caribbean absolute interrogative intonation.
Selected Proceedings of the 15th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium
edited by Chad Howe, Sarah E. Blackwell, and Margaret Lubbers Quesada
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