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Ahn, Miyeon and Arum Kang. 2020. The prosody of rhetorical questions in Korean. Studies in Phonetics, Phonology and Morphology 26.3. 503-522. The purpose of this study is to investigate the prosody of rhetorical questions (RQs) in Korean and to examine how it differs from that of wh-questions (wh-OQs). Unlike ordinary questions (OQs), of which the direct speech act is to request information, RQs do not give rise to the illocutionary force of questioning, but rather make a negative assertion. OQs and RQs that are syntactically identical were considered to be identified by phonetic properties, which serve as crucial cues to determine the meaning of OQs vs. RQs. In this work, which mainly focuses on the contrast between wh-questions and rhetorical questions, we designed a production study to explore both the prosodic and the temporal properties of wh-OQs and RQs. We measured the f0 contours of wh-OQs and RQs and the duration of the vowels that appear in the sentence-final syllable of each question type. It was found that, prosodically, RQs are characterized by a low boundary tone whereas, OQs are typically marked by a high tone. It was also found that, temporally, the duration of the sentence-final vowel of RQs is significantly extended compared to that of OQs, which can be understood as semantico-pragmatic intensification to increase the effect of negative assertion. (Hankyong National University, Assistant Professor)


Keywords: rhetorical questions (RQs), wh-questions (wh-OQs), prosody, phonetic details, phonology-semantics interface

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