On the Intonation of Confirmation-Seeking Requests in Child-Directed Speech

Ana Isabel Mata, Ana LĂșcia Santos, Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Lisboa

In this paper we identify intonation cues that can disambiguate confirmation-seeking questions in adult-child dialogue in European Portuguese (EP). 301 examples of confirmation requests answered by two children and uttered by three different adults were analysed. Results show that (i) most confirmation-seeking questions (92.7\%) do not present the intonation pattern previously identified for information-seeking questions in EP; (ii) pragmatic/discourse values of confirmation-seeking questions affect pitch accent type distribution and F0 height of both nuclear pitch accents and final boundary tones; (iii) L*+H and \^H*, previously associated with narrow/contrastive focus in questions or with correction of given information, are associated with non-neutral acceptance in confirmation requests. We interpret non-neutral acceptance as an instance of Contrast and suggest that Contrast is coded across different contexts and structures by the same pitch accents.