Short reportThe prosodic phrasing of clause-final prepositional phrases

Eileen Fitzpatrick, Montclair State University


Spoken language is not produced in a continuous flowl; it is broken up into phrases. An understanding of phrase-boundary placement is critical for comprehension and of great importance in text-to-speech technology. The knowledge that speakers use to determine phrasal boundaries has been attributed in the literature to many seemingly competing factors, syntactic, semantic, phonological, discourse, and pragmatic. This article reports on a study of the boundaries of a single type of data, clause-final prepositional phrases (PPs). The study was done to improve the phrasing of a text-to-speech synthesizer. The syntactic constituency of the PP and its length as measured in accented syllables account for an overwhelming majority of the data. The few exceptions to this account fall into natural categories of semantics, discourse, and pragmatics, which suggests they have the status of marked forms.