Prosodic disambiguation and attachment height

Author(s): Nino Grillo and Giuseppina Turco


This study investigates the role played by prosody in the syntactic and semantic disambiguation of string identical Relative Clauses (RC) and Pseudo Relatives (PR) in Italian. While RCs are embedded within the NP they modify, PRs sit in a higher position in the syntactic structure, standing in a sisterhood relation with the head NP. A production study with 8 Italian speakers set to determine whether and how this structural difference is encoded at a prosodic level. Preliminary results suggest that the minimal pairs are disambiguated at a prosodic level and that such disambiguation is encoded as early as at the NP-head. We discuss how this prosodic evidence reflects the structural difference highlighted above.