Prosody in the interpretation of ambiguity

René Alain Santana de Almeida, Miguel Oliveira, Reinier Cozijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The present paper aims to analyze the role of prosody in the resolution of global ambiguity in sentences of the type NP1 - Verb - NP2 - Adverb of place - Adverb of intensity (very) - Attribute, e.g., “The guitarist received the drummer at the room very drugged” (O guitarrista recebeu o baterista no quarto bastante drogado), in Brazilian Portuguese (BP). We consider the hypothesis that prosodic cues, such as stress and pause, assist in the process of disambiguation, both in isolation and in conjunction. The experimental paradigm of the present study used an off-line method of linguistic processing through a questionnaire with Likert scale questions. The results revealed a predominance of non-local apposition judgments in all analyzed conditions. However, the choice of assigning the adjective to the first nominal phrase increased, in a statistically significant way, in the conditions in which there was prosodic manipulation for that purpose, confirming our hypothesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Speech Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • prosody
  • prosodic stress
  • prosodic pause
  • syntactic ambiguity


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