Wagner (2016) – How to be kind with prosody

How to be kind with prosody
Michael Wagner

April 2016
direct link: http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/002958

What was said is often interpreted relative to what was left unsaid. Evaluate statements such as That’s good can sound negative, because the speaker could have said great instead. That’s great, on the other hand, might be interpreted as ‘not so great’, if we believe the speaker was just being nice. How, then, can we ever credibly convey our true intentions when making evaluate statements? We present evidence showing that prosody can be used to modulate the interpretation of evaluative statements, and can specifically be used to preempt inferences about positive evaluations toward a more negative interpretation. It is less able to modulate negative evaluations. The observed asymmetry makes sense if we tend to be kind to each other, and inflate our evaluative statements toward the nicer end of the spectrum.

Format: pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002958
(please use that when you cite this article, unless you want to cite the full url: http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/002958)
Published in: To appear in the Proceedings of the Satellite Session on Framing speech: Celebrating 40 years of inquiry with Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, at Speech Prosody 2016, Boston.
keywords: emotion, scalar implicature, prosody, sarcasm, evaluative statements, politeness, semantics, phonology