Non-question rises in narratives produced by mothers and daughters

Author(s): Meghan E. Armstrong, Page Piccinini and Amanda Ritchart

Abstract

In recent years, a great deal of attention has been paid to the use of rises on non-question utterances in American English, as well as other English varieties. However, little attention has been paid to this phenomenon in the speech of children acquiring American English (AmEng). Here we analyze elicited spontaneous speech from four mother-daughter pairs in Central Connecticut. Both mothers and daughters were asked to tell a short story to the experimenter, since the “uptalk” phenomenon has been shown to be common in narratives. Results suggest that input plays a role when choosing between the tunes known to convey non-finality in AmEng: mothers using more rises than level tones have daughters who do the same, and vice versa. Such an effect is not found when comparing rises to falls: daughters in general produce more rises than falls when compared to their mothers. Finally, daughters produce rises that are longer and shallower than their mothers. Results are compared to previous work on non-question rises in AmEng. In addition, we consider implications for language development as well as language change.

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