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Right Dislocation and Afterthought in Novels: An Empirical Study on German 

Zurück zum Heft: Linguistische Berichte Heft 247
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The phenomenon of right dislocation is attested for many typologically distinct languages and has been investigated in terms of its morpho-syntax, prosody and information structure. Another construction at the right periphery often confused with right dislocation is that of afterthought. While right dislocations create a comment-topic structure, afterthoughts clarify an ambiguous reference, which has been made in the preceding context. This information structural distinction is here formalized on the basis of Centering Theory. Both constructions are used in written language as well and serve the same functions as in spoken language. This study aims to investigate whether naive readers of texts that either contain right dislocation or afterthought recognize these structures correctly. For this purpose, a reading production experiment was conducted and intonation contours of the read texts were matched against the contours of spontaneous speech. Results revealed that participants distinguish between right dislocation and afterthought on the basis of phrasing (i.e. boundary strength) but not accent patterns. The distinction of right dislocation and afterthought was also present in terms of the reduction of pitch range, which showed a rather complex pattern but was overall greater in right dislocations than in afterthoughts.