Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University
This study proposes a novel exploration of perceived prosodic highlights in continuous speech, focusing on the alternative function of indexing and projecting information content deployment in the speech context. Given the assumption that prosodic highlight allocation directly reflects the interlocutors’ information content deployment, this study foregrounds perception-based prominences for indexing both the key information (KEY) and the projector (PJR) that projects the deployment of key/focal information. Two information content planning units (PJR plus its respective projection PJN, and KEY) prompted by prosodic highlights were established, based on quantitative analyses and discriminative acoustic features. Additional analyses confirm a general heavy-to-light information distribution across both units, showcasing that the relative projection trajectory size in the PJR-PJN unit is positively correlated to its position within discourse-prosodic units. Current results, therefore, directly substantiate the cognitive explanation of prosodic projection in speech, as evidence beyond syntactic relationships are drawn and prosodic projection is shown to involve perceived prosodic highlight allocation and information deployment in a fixed pattern. Explorations of prosody-prompted projection shed light on a more comprehensive account of the mechanism behind information planning, hence facilitating a deeper understanding of the composition of context prosody and the derivation of linguistic invariants from speech.