What does prosody tell us about relative clause attachments in German?


Stella Gryllia, Frank K├╝gler, Universit├Ąt Potsdam

The aim of this paper is threefold: (i) to examine the prosodic means that German speakers use when they intend high and low attachment interpretations in NP1-NP2GEN R(elative)- C(lause) constructions, (ii) to investigate the prosodic means employed by speakers when confronted with ambiguous NP1-NP2GENR(elative)-C(lause) constructions and (iii) to test the predictions made by the Implicit Prosody Hypothesis. For this purpose, a production experiment was carried out. The results show that speakers do not realize a pause (P) between NP1 and NP2, while they do make a pause (P1) between NP2 and R(elative)-C(lause). P1 is longer in Forced Low attachment condition (the R(elative)-C(lause) unambiguously modifies NP2) than in Forced High attachment condition (the R(elative)-C(lause) unambiguously modifies NP1).