Prosodic effects on garden-path sentences

Li Hsin Ning, Chilin Shih

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A garden-path sentence has temporary ambiguity that a reader or listener need to resolve. Prosody is well-known to have effects on sentence comprehension so it is expected that it will affect the interpretation of garden-path sentences. However, in an auditory comprehension test with natural speech, the garden-path effect may be unclear because a listener can typically resolve the ambiguity and recover from the garden-path effect when the sentence is completed. Therefore, this paper investigates ways to enhance or suppress gardenpath interpretation in Mandarin by manipulating phrasing with pause insertion and pitch reset. The results show that long pause at the garden-path site enhances the garden-path (wrong) interpretation which cannot be undone by pitch reset that encourages the correct phrasing. The most effective way in prosody to enhance the gardenpath effect in Mandarin requires both long pause and high pitch reset.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 6th International Conference on Speech Prosody
PublisherTongji University Press
Number of pages4
ISBN (Print)9787560848693
StatePublished - 2012
Event6th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2012, SP 2012 - Shanghai, China
Duration: May 22 2012May 25 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 6th International Conference on Speech Prosody, SP 2012


Other6th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2012, SP 2012


  • Garden-path effect
  • Mandarin
  • Pause duration
  • Pitch reset
  • Reaction time
  • Sentence comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Software
  • Mechanical Engineering


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