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ERIC Number: ED514672
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 410
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1096-4018-2
Prosodic Phrasing and Modifier Attachment in Standard Arabic Sentence Processing
Abdelghany, Hala
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, City University of New York
This dissertation investigates the syntax-prosody interface in Standard Arabic, focusing on the ambiguity of a modifier (relative clause or adjective phrase) in relation to the two nouns in a complex noun phrase. Ambiguity resolution tendencies for this construction differ across languages, contrary to otherwise universal parsing tendencies. One explanation proposed is Fodor's (2000) Implicit Prosody Hypothesis: that readers mentally project onto a text a default prosodic phrasing (possibly different between languages), which then influences their syntactic ambiguity resolution. Since implicit (silent) prosody cannot be directly observed, previous research has had to infer it by analogy with overt prosody. But the phonology and orthography of SA permit use of novel methods for tapping into the silent prosody of readers. Liaison phenomena sensitive to prosodic boundaries make phonological phrasing in SA very easy to detect. Also, liaison is indicated by diacritics in the 'vowelized' version of SA orthography. Thus, clear data on prosodic phrasing patterns in SA complex nominals can be related to their preferred syntactic/semantic interpretations. Six experiments are reported: three production experiments and three perception experiments. Participants in Experiment 4 silently read sentences in unvowelized orthography, and added diacritics as they thought appropriate. The inserted diacritics gave evidence of their implicit prosodic phrasing of the sentence. Experiments 5 and 6 investigated Arabic speakers' preferred overt prosodic phrasing when the modifier was forced to attach to either the lower or the higher noun, providing standards for comparison with the prosodic phrasing preferences in silent reading in Experiment 4. The orthography was put to a different use in assessing modifier interpretation under varying prosodic conditions. In Experiments 2 and 3, vowelized text was presented, establishing one or other of two relevant prosodic patterns. Participants read aloud, and then indicated their interpretation of the sentence. This provided standards for comparison with modifier interpretation (attachment preferences) in silent reading of unvowelized texts (lacking prosodic disambiguation) in Experiment 1. Results obtained from these experiments provide new information concerning the constraints that apply at the syntax-prosody interface in SA, and also support the hypothesis of an effect of implicit prosody on syntactic interpretation during silent reading. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A