The intonation of wh- and yes/no-questions in Tokyo Japanese

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


The paper reports experimental results on the intonation of wh- and yes/no-questions in Tokyo Japanese, and discusses several implications for the semantic and phonological theories of focus. The intonation of declarative sentences, wh-questions, and yes/no-questions are systematically compared. The results show that the wh-question exhibits an F0-prominence on the wh-phrase, while the yes/no-question exhibits an F0-prominence on the verb. It is claimed that these prominences are both focus-oriented. This proposal fits the standard semantic theory of questions (Hamblin 1973) nicely. Phonological theories of focus prosody in Tokyo Japanese are compared in the light of the results. The interaction of the notions of focus and discourse-newness/givenness are also discussed.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
  • Specific Languages


  • intonation, wh-question, yes/no-questions, Japanese, focus, givenness
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContrastiveness in information structure, alternatives and scaler implicatures
EditorsChungmin Lee, Ferenc Kiefer, Manfred Krifka
Place of PublicationNew York/Heidelberg
PublisherSpringer Verlag
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-10106-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-10105-7
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

NameStudies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory
ISSN (Print)0924-4670