Predicting perspectival orientation for appositives


In previous work (Harris & Potts, 2009), we present corpus and experimental evidence indicating that (i) appositives and expressives are generally speaker-oriented — i.e., they are generally intended to convey speaker commitments and generally interpreted as such — but that (ii) certain discourse conditions can counteract this preference to such a degree that non-speaker-orientation becomes the dominant interpretation (see also Wang et al. 2005; Karttunen & Zaenen 2005; Amaral et al. 2007). In that study, found that non-speaker-oriented readings were available even when unembedded, contra to the view that the relevant perspectival shifting is handled exclusively via binding by attitude verbs (Schlenker, 2003, 2007; Sauerland, 2007).

Our present goal is to better understand the nature of the factors governing perspectival anchoring and the ways in which they interact. To that end, we present results from a pilot study that provide an initial characterization of the ways in which speakers express their commitments to controversial appositive content when embedded under an attitude predicate. Our results suggest that speakers have a wide variety of prosodic and gestural devices at their disposal, which serve to contrast the speaker’s perspective from those of other agents’ in the context.

In the Proceedings from the 45th Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, 207–221