Prosody and sentence type in DutchŽ1 | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1384-5845
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1171



This article summarizes earlier research done on the prosodic marking of interrogativity and imperatives in Dutch on the basis of recorded speech from male and female speakers. The first part of this article compares statements (ST) and three types of question. The form of questions may differ in various respects from statements: Wh-questions (WH) have a question word in initial position and exhibit subject-verb inversion, yes/no-questions (YN) have inversion only, while declarative questions (DE) have the same structure as ST. Our functional hypothesis that the intensity of interrogativity marking through prosody counterbalances the degree of syntactic marking in the order ST < WH < YN < DE is confirmed both by an analysis of the phonological choices made and by the details of the phonetic implementation of the melodies. The second part of the article compares statements and imperatives. All sentences were produced with three different attitudes: neutral, friendly and authoritarian. Our hypothesis that imperatives are prosodically marked in the same way as authoritarian statements seems to be confirmed, as an analysis of tone transcriptions reveals no systematic differences between them at the linguistic level. The difference is only weakly marked in the prosody at the phonetic level, in a way that suggests that the speaker raises his/her voice in imperatives (higher overall pitch, longer duration, greater intensity), which is also the way in which the authoritarian style of speaking differs from the other attitudes.


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