13. Intonational phrase boundaries: A puzzle
In this paper, we report a series of experiments on the interpretation of ambiguous VP Ellipsis (VPE) sentences like (3) that are spoken with either a H% or L% boundary tone. (3) John said that Fred went to Europe (H%/L%) and Mary did too. The elided VP at did may be interpreted with either the embedded VP went to Europe or the matrix VP said that Fred went to Europe as its antecedent. Our expectation was that the examples with a L% would behave more like the two sentence condition in a corresponding written study (described below), with more matrix interpretations, whereas examples with the H% would behave more like the one sentence condition in having fewer matrix interpretations. The expectation was not confirmed, with boundary tones being generally ineffective in biasing different interpretations of these VPE sentences. In what follows, we first present published and new experimental data and then discuss the results and their implications from the broader perspective of the various properties of prosodic constituents.