Affirmative constituents in European Portuguese dialogues: Prosodic and pragmatic properties

Author(s): Vera Cabarrão, Ana Isabel Mata and Isabel Trancoso


This paper investigates the correlation between the prosodic properties and pragmatic functions of affirmative constituents in adult-adult interactions in European Portuguese (CORAL corpus). 515 affirmative constituents produced in 460 answers, extracted from 11 dialogues between 12 speakers, were analyzed. Results show that: i) sim ‘yes’, ok and grunts are the most frequent affirmative constituents; ii) sim ‘yes’ is associated with all the communicative functions analyzed, agreement, auto positive and confirm, ok tends to occur with agreement, and grunts are mainly associated to auto positive; iii) affirmative constituents have different prosodic properties according to their pragmatic function: agreement and confirm show a similar behavior, being auto positive the most distinct function. Agreement and confirm are commonly uttered with (H+)L* L%, whereas auto positive is commonly uttered with L*+H / (L+)H* H%. When affirmative constituents co-occur in the same answer, there are evidences of tone copying between them. Correlations between constituents were also found in the following parameters: energy, pitch mean, maxima and minima, as well as pitch range. As for context-answer pairs, a pitch concord effect is also found between the pairs instruct-agreement and propositional question-confirm, although expressed in different degrees.